Government bill will impede life-saving health services, cause more death and disease

A Statement from the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Canadian Drug Policy Coalition and PIVOT

JUNE 6, 2013 — Flouting the Supreme Court of Canada, today the federal government has introduced

in Parliament a bill that aims to make it even more difficult for health authorities and community

agencies to offer supervised drug consumption services, such as Vancouver’s Insite, to Canadians who

are among those most at risk of HIV infection and fatal overdose. Bill C-65 introduces numerous conditions that the government says must be met before the Minister of Health will issue an exemption under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) to allow a supervised consumption service to operate. Without such an exemption, people using the service risk being criminally charged for drug possession, effectively undermining the ability of health services to reach those at greatest risk.


The bill is an irresponsible initiative that ignores both the extensive evidence that such health services

are needed and effective, and the human rights of Canadians with addictions. In essence, the bill

seeks to create multiple additional hurdles that providers of health services must overcome. The bill

declares that the Health Minister should issue an exemption only in “exceptional circumstances.” In

addition, numerous provisions of the bill create opportunities for community opponents, local police and others to voice their opposition — even if ill-informed — to such health services, and for the federal

Health Minister to then use such opposition as an excuse for denying exemptions.

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