Today, the Supreme Court of Canada recognized that ministerial discretion cannot be exercised so as to violate the Charter. The case pitted the clinic which operates INSITE medical services for people with drug addiction in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side, and the Federal Government which was considering not renewing an exemption of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, which has been allowing employees to make injections under medical supervision.
Since the Act allowed exemptions for medical or other purposes, the Supreme Court ordered that Minister to grant this exemption in this case given that it has been proved that the INSITE service saves lives and significantly reduces the incidence of diseases such as AIDS or Hepatitis C without necessarily increasing consumption. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association intervened in the case to argue that the application of Article 7 of the Charter (right to life, liberty, and security of the person) requires an exemption from the application of criminal provisions.
CCLA welcomes the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision. It is a triumph for public health policy in Canada and more generally for the duty of every government to act rationally in situations where life and human health are at stake
>> Read the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision: http://csc.lexum.org/fr/2011/2011csc44/2011csc44.html
>> Read about CCLA’s intervention: CCLA to Intervene in Support of Safe Injection Sites