Vancouver, B.C. – The future of Insite, Vancouver’s supervised injection site, will be revealed by the BC Court of Appeal on Friday. The Court will release its decision in two cases that are essential to the continued operation of the supervised injection site. The BC Civil Liberties Association has been involved as an intervener in the cases since they were before the BC Supreme Court in 2008. The BCCLA argued that Insite is an essential health service, and that preventing Insite from operating legally would be a violation of Insite’s patients’ Charter rights.
Daniel Webster, Q.C., counsel for the BCCLA: “If the BC Court of Appeal upholds the decision of the lower court, this will be a major victory for social justice in the Downtown Eastside. Insite allows drug addicts access to the health care that they desperately need. This decision could be an important step toward bringing to an end the criminalization of disadvantage and disease.”
Ryan Dalziel, counsel for the BCCLA: “Insite provides an important health service that limits the harm associated with drug addiction in the Downtown Eastside. This case is about whether the federal government has the power to impose jail time for the use or operation of that health service.”
Insite was originally allowed to operate under a temporary exemption to federal drug control laws. When the temporary exemption was due to expire, Insite went to the BC Supreme Court and won a permanent exemption. The federal government appealed that decision, and the result will be released on Friday. Grace Pastine, Litigation Director for the BCCLA: “The BCCLA has a long-standing commitment to advocating for safe and sensible drug policies. The war on drugs has been a failure, and we need new answers. Every study shows that Insite saves lives and saves money. Closing it down would be a big step backward.”
Insite is operated by the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority and the Portland Hotel Society. Insite provides supervised and sanitary conditions for the use of intravenous drugs. Insite has reduced the health risks associated with addiction to such drugs. Research has found that the operation of Insite has prevented overdose deaths and lessened the spread of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C, along with reducing the suffering of addicts.
Ryan Dalziel and Daniel Webster, Q.C. are counsel for the BCCLA. Both are of the firm Bull, Housser & Tupper LLP.
Daniel Webster, Q.C., 604.641.4874
Grace Pastine, Litigation Director, 778-241-7183 (cell), [email protected]