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International News

Supreme Court of Canada to Hear Federal Appeal of Insite Safe Injection Clinic

June 29, 2010

The Supreme Court of Canada will consider a case involving Vancouver's supervised injection facility Insite, which opened in 2003 under an exclusion from federal drug laws. The British Columbia Court of Appeal recently ruled that provinces, not the federal government, have jurisdiction over health care matters such as Insite. That decision allows Insite to remain in operation without the federal government's approval.

However, the lower court's decision was not unanimous, and in January the federal government said it would appeal the ruling. While the Supreme Court never publishes justifications for taking up a case, federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said the question over jurisdiction still needs resolving.


"I'm disappointed because this is a program that has received very widespread independent medical journal support for the outcomes and the efforts they are making on a medical basis to treat some of the most difficult addicts you can imagine," Kevin Falcon, British Columbia's health minister, said after the federal government announced the appeal.

In more than two-dozen medical studies, Insite has been cited as a success for reducing overdose deaths, HIV and hepatitis rates, and crime in the surrounding Downtown Eastside neighborhood. In 2009, the province spent $2.9 million (US $2.8 million) on the project. Since Insite opened, the number of injection drug users entering detoxification programs has increased 30 percent, said Dr. Julio Montaner, director of the B.C. Center for Excellence in HIV/AIDS.

Canada's Liberal Party, which governed when Insite opened in 2003, says it opposes efforts by Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government to shutter Insite. "The evidence that Insite saves lives is undeniable," said Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, who recently visited Insite.

Back to other news for June 2010

Adapted from:
Canadian Press

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
Canada to Take Injection Site Case to Top Court
Ask Our Expert, David Fawcett, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., About Substance Use and HIV
Needle Exchange & HIV/AIDS: Canada

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