The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has been granted leave to intervene before the Supreme Court of Canada in Attorney General of Canada, et al. v. PHS Community Services Society, et al., a legal battle to protect safe injection sites. CCLA’s intervention will focus on the rights of marginalized people who use this site (and other such sites) and the surrounding community, to life, liberty and security of the person.
Insite, located in Vancouver’s downtown east side, is part of a provincial program to create medical, social and other services for the disadvantaged people living in this area. This medical facility has been providing users of injection drugs with clean needles, medical support, and access to various services. However recently, the federal government refused to extend an exemption that would protect users of the site, nurses and other staff from potential prosecution under the criminal law.
In its submission to the Supreme Court of Canada, CCLA will argue that this threat of criminal sanction would deny people access to this provincially-run health service and deprive them of their fundamental rights. This is particularly acute in light of the vulnerabilities of people who use these kinds of services: addiction, poverty, mental and physical disabilities, racial and ethnic discrimination and homelessness. Finally, CCLA will argue that the government should not be able to use drug laws – intended to protect people’s health – to deny them access to such medical treatment.