Public Health Applauds Supreme Court Decision on Vancouver’s Supervised Injection Facility

Insite, Vancouver

Friday, September 30, 2011

OTTAWA – The Supreme Court of Canada today unanimously ordered the federal Minister of Health to grant an exemption to Vancouver’s supervised injection facility (Insite) in accordance with s. 56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA).

The Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) applauds the decision noting that Vancouver’s supervised injection facility (Insite) and its essential programs provide a comprehensive approach to address the health needs of people who use injection drugs.

“Addiction-related drug use is a health issue and not a criminal justice issue,” said Debra Lynkowski, CPHA’s Chief Executive Officer. “This decision is an important step in promoting and protecting both individual rights to life, liberty and security of the person and the health and security of the broader public.”

The results of more than 50 peer-reviewed scientific articles provide irrefutable evidence that Insite has a positive impact on the health of the people who use its services and a positive impact on the surrounding community.

“The public health principle of stewardship places a duty on governments to act in ways that enhance the health of individuals and their communities,” stated Lynkowski. “Collectively, we have the responsibility to protect the health of all Canadians, no matter what their situation.”

Many Canadians who use injection drugs live on the margins of society and have great difficulty accessing social services. For many of these people, the idea of stopping their drug use or seeking help for their addiction may seem impossible.

“Harm reduction is one of the four pillars1 of a comprehensive drug strategy and Insite represents a crucial public health tool,” said Lynkowski. “Given the thoughtful consideration of the Court, we trust that the Minister will take the appropriate action.”

The other three pillars are prevention, treatment and enforcement.

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For more information contact:

Emma Mallach, Communications Manager
Canadian Public Health Association
Telephone: 613.725.3769 ext 160
Mobile: 613.914.1151
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About CPHA
Founded in 1910, the Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) is the independent voice for public health in Canada with links to the national and international communities. CPHA’s mission is to enhance the health of people in Canada and to contribute to a healthier and more equitable world. As the only Canadian non-governmental organization focused exclusively on public health, CPHA is uniquely positioned to advise decision-makers about public health system reform and to guide initiatives to help safeguard the personal and community health of Canadians and people around the world.