Denis Coderre makes another push for Montreal safe injection sites

Denis Coderre says the city will get supervised injection facilities regardless of what Ottawa says about it.

Federal Drug Act exemption required for sites to operate legally

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre wants to open the first safe injection facility in Montreal within a few months. (Radio-Canada)

Montreal's mayor says the city will get supervised injection facilities regardless of what Ottawa says about it.

Denis Coderre says the project has been approved by city council and the provincial government.

The city's police force has also been consulted.

The federal government must grant an exemption under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act in order for a safe-injection site to operate.

Quebec officially asked for the exemption at the beginning of May, but Ottawa has been publicly and strongly opposed to granting licences for facilities where people can inject drugs legally.

Montreal plans to open three sites in community organizations as well as one mobile site.

Federal Minister of Health Rona Ambrose said an exemption allowing a safe injection site would only be granted after public consultation.

"It's not a surprise to me that the mayor of Montreal — who is a former teammate of Justin Trudeau — wants to open heroin injection sites without any public consultation. But we have a piece of legislation through the house that will require that if a heroin injection site wants to be opened up in a new neighbourhood, the public and the neighbourhood must be consulted," she said ahead of Question Period on Thursday.

In 2011, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that denying citizens access to safe injection sites was unconstitutional because it deprived people of potentially life-saving medical care.

The only supervised injection facility in Canada is located in Vancouver.

Coderre said Montreal will respect the Supreme Court decision and all other legal requirements for the facilities.

"This is not about politics, this is about health care," he said.

He added he thought Ottawa's stamp of approval "should be a formality."

Coderre wants to open a facility within a few months and suggested the federal government might stymie his efforts by delaying its decision until after the scheduled October federal election.

"There is no time to play games," he said. "It's not a matter to buy time — I'm not going to fall for that. We are solid and we are going to do it anyway."

with files from CBC News