The federal Conservative government has yet to wave the white flag in its fight against Vancouver’s Insite drug injection site – despite a Supreme Court ruling that says its attempts to close the clinic were “grossly disproportionate” to the benefits for drug users and the community.
The Health Minister told the House of Commons on Friday that her government would be taking a look at the decision. “Although we are disappointed with the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision today, we will comply,” Leona Aglukkaq said during Question Period.
The government, she said, believes that the system should be focussed on preventing people from becoming drug addicts and has made significant investments to strengthen existing treatment efforts through its treatment action plan.
“We will be reviewing the court decision,” the minister said.
Liberal MP Joyce Murray, who represents the riding of Vancouver Quadra, demanded to know what Ms. Aglukkaq meant when she said the decision would be reviewed. “Will the government respect the Supreme Court’s decision and stop attacking Insite?” she asked.
Ms. Aglukkaq replied that the decision had been handed down just two hours earlier. “I’m sure the member opposite has not had the opportunity either to review the question,” she said. “So we will do our part and do the due diligence and review the Supreme Court decision.”
Libby Davies, the New Democrat MP whose riding includes the Downtown Eastside where Insite is located, was delighted with the court ruling.
“Since it opened in 2003 in my riding, fatal overdoses have dropped by a third. More people get treatment as Insite is there to connect people with the services they need. Today the people who use this service have had their voices heard,” Ms. Davies told the House.
“The Supreme Court agrees, health professionals agree, international health experts agree,” she said. “Will the Conservatives admit their failed approach and acknowledge that Insite protects public health and saves lives? Will they stop being the barrier to this very important service?”