Methadone users claim unfair treatment
Methadone users on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside say they have been kicked out of their Hastings Street hotel for not getting their prescriptions filled exclusively at the hotel.
Twin brothers Randy and Daniel Howery, who are on methadone to treat their heroin addictions, say they are getting no support from the agency dealing with landlord and tenant disputes, which has ruled the residence is technically a recovery house, not a hotel, so the evictions cannot be challenged.
The brothers were renters at the Palace Hotel and were evicted by pharmacist George Wolsey, the landlord's representative, for not getting their prescriptions filled exclusively at the hotel, the brothers' lawyer Laura Track told CBC News.
Wolsey is an acting director of the Wilson Recovery Society. The Residential Tenancy Branch ruled the Palace is a recovery house for addicts, exempting it from laws protecting tenants.
The Pivot Legal Society is now asking the B.C. Supreme Court for a review of the tenancy branch's decision.
"We say that providing methadone is not a good enough reason for the hotel to be outside the jurisdiction of the act," said Track.
A CBC investigation last year into methadone kickbacks in the Downtown Eastside led to the closure of a pharmacy George Wolsey was involved with.
Can be lucrative for pharmacists
At the time, tenants at the Wonder Hotel, also run by Wolsey, were evicted for getting their methadone elsewhere.
The drug regimen can be lucrative for pharmacists, with dispensing fees paid by the province.
"This guy's not a stranger to us," said Kim Kerr, executive director of the Downtown Eastside Residents Association.
"He forces people to only get their prescriptions through his pharmacy and if they refuse to, he throws them out. There is no treatment," Kerr said.
B.C.'s College of Pharmacists would not confirm whether Wolsey's licence is under review, but it recently adopted a new bylaw prohibiting pharmacists from telling patients where to fill prescriptions.