New rules imposed on drug-injection sites

OTTAWA — The federal government has introduced tough new rules for supervised drug injection sites, in a move some see as an effort to deter such facilities.

OTTAWA — The federal government has introduced tough new rules for supervised drug injection sites, in a move some see as an effort to deter such facilities.

The government says it’s a response to a Supreme Court of Canada ruling that ordered the Conservatives to keep a Vancouver clinic open against their will.

But NDP health critic Libby Davies said the government is effectively blocking any chance of setting up a new clinic.

The new legislation would require advocates of new clinics to meet two dozen specific criteria before they can apply to open a new clinic. Among other things, they would have to canvass community opinion and gain the support of provincial and municipal authorities.

The health minister would then make the final decision.

As Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq tabled her bill on Thursday, she made it clear which way she will lean.

“Our government believes that a site involving the use of illicit substances should be strictly controlled to protect everyone in the community,” she told reporters.

“Accordingly, we believe that the application process needs to be changed to create formal opportunities for local voices to be heard and their views considered before an exemption would be considered.”

The Conservative Party immediately followed up with a plea to party supporters to sign a petition to “keep heroin out of our backyards.”

In a note attached to the petition, Conservative Party operations director Jenni Byrne says, “special interests are trying to open up these supervised drug consumption sites in cities and towns across Canada — over the objections of local residents and law enforcement.

“We’ve had enough — that’s why I am pleased the Harper government is acting to put the safety of our communities first.”

The 2011 court ruling has kept the Vancouver InSite clinic open, but the new rules will make it more difficult for it to stay open and for supporters to open clinics in other cities.

InSite advocates say the clinic’s presence has reduced fatal overdoses and connected drug addicts with the social services they need to improve their health. But no other city has yet set up a similar injection site.

Until now, such clinics required an exemption under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to operate.

The new rules add an additional set of requirements focused on getting input from local and provincial authorities.

Applicants must include letters from provincial ministers, local government, local police forces and provincial health authorities, as well as proof of consultation with doctors, nurses and a broad range of community groups.

They will need to show they are financially sustainable. And they will have to provide scientific evidence of medical benefits that would come from setting up a safe injection site.

Applicants will also have to predict impacts on public safety and set up procedures to mitigate the risk of harm to health, safety and security.

And they must take into account other drug treatment services available.

The Vancouver facility, if it wants to stay open, would have to meet all the new requirements and show how the site has already affected neighbourhood crime rates and individual and public health.

A spokeswoman for InSite said there was no official comment on the legislation yet, but she pointed out that the facility already meets provincial requirements for public consultation and community engagement. The facility has federal permission to stay open until March 2014, when it must apply to Ottawa again.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Council approved a $3 million grant and a $19 million loan Tuesday to help keep Westerner Park sustainable. (Advocate file photo)
Red Deer city council approves $22M to keep Westerner Park viable after emotional debate

It’s vital ensure future success for the huge economic generator, says mayor

Red Deer Rebels goalie Chase Coward tries to find a loose puck during WHL action at the Centrium earlier this season. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)
Changes on the horizon for Red Deer Rebels next season

New coach, roster adjustments among top priorities for Sutter this offseason

Renovations and construction have begun at Red Deer Dream Centre. (Photo contributed)
Renovations underway at Red Deer Dream Centre

Christian-based addictions treatment centre

Red Deer County's municipal planning commission gave approval for a new directional sign for a business located near Elnora.
(Image from Red Deer County)
Red Deer County garden centre and winery gets sign approved

Delidais Estate Winery and DA Gardens is located near Elnora

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Here is a list of latest COVID-19 restrictions in effect in Alberta

New mandatory health restrictions are now in effect in Alberta. Additional restrictions… Continue reading

Boston Bruins left wing Nick Ritchie (21) and Washington Capitals defenseman Brenden Dillon (4) battle for the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, May 11, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Raffl’s late goal pushes Capitals past Bruins, 2-1

Raffl’s late goal pushes Capitals past Bruins, 2-1

Chicago Blackhawks left wing Alex DeBrincat (12) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Florida Panthers in Chicago, Saturday, May 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Toews’ question chases Chicago Blackhawks into offseason

Toews’ question chases Chicago Blackhawks into offseason

Wheeler has two goals, two assists as Winnipeg Jets clinch third in North Division

Wheeler has two goals, two assists as Winnipeg Jets clinch third in North Division

Depleted Raptors drop a 115-96 decision to Leonard and Clippers

Depleted Raptors drop a 115-96 decision to Leonard and Clippers

Denis Shapovalov, of Canada, tosses the ball for a serve to Ilya Ivashka, of Belarus, during the Miami Open tennis tournament Saturday, March 27, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Wilfredo Lee
Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime upsets Diego Schwartzman at Italian Open

Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime upsets Diego Schwartzman at Italian Open

Philadelphia Flyers' James van Riemsdyk (25) and Sean Couturier (14) celebrate past New Jersey Devils' Yegor Sharangovich (17) after a goal by van Riemsdyk during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, May 10, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Flyers drop from trendy East favorite to another lost season

Flyers drop from trendy East favorite to another lost season

André Gauthier is shown in a handout photo. Gauthier, a Canadian geologist who spent six years in and out of jail in Dubai after he allegedly uncovered fraud in a gold company, finally is back home in Quebec City after his release last week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Detained in Dubai MANDATORY CREDIT
Canadian geologist detained in Dubai for six years is back home after charges dropped

Canadian geologist detained in Dubai for six years is back home after charges dropped

This undated photo provided by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department shows a group of bighorn sheep in North Dakota. Alberta's environment department has known for years that toxins from old coal mines are contaminating populations of the province's official animal, the bighorn sheep. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Bihrle/North Dakota Game and Fish Department via AP, File
Alberta government knew bighorn sheep contaminated with coal mine selenium: scientist

Alberta government knew bighorn sheep contaminated with coal mine selenium: scientist

Most Read