Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }

A court hearing to challenge the federal government’s ban on needles for drug-using prisoners has been postponed until Dec. 17.

Lynne Sladky/The Associated Press

A court hearing to challenge the federal government’s ban on needles for drug-using prisoners has been postponed until next week in the latest delay for a case that began seven years ago.

Monday’s hearing before the Ontario Superior Court was pushed back to Dec. 17 due to a medical emergency in the applicants’ legal team.

The case, launched in 2012 by former prisoner Steven Simons, argues the current rules violate inmates’ rights and expose them to serious blood-borne diseases.

Story continues below advertisement

Several HIV/AIDS advocacy organizations are also involved in the challenge, saying the federal government must meet its legal obligation to protect the health of people in prison.

“Let me state in the strongest possible terms: prison health is public health,” Simons said outside court Monday.

“Most prisoners in Canada will return home, bringing any illnesses they’ve contracted in prison with them. A prison needle and syringe program protects all Canadians.”

Simons, who spent more than a decade in a federal penitentiary before his release in 2010, said he tested positive for hepatitis C after another inmate used his injection equipment without his consent or knowledge.

The government has argued in court filings that giving clean drug-injection needles to prisoners would make federal facilities more dangerous, since syringes could be used as weapons.

The Correctional Service last year launched a program that offers inmates in some facilities access to sterile equipment. Lawyers representing the department said Monday the program is currently available in roughly half a dozen prisons, and will eventually be rolled out to all 43 federal facilities.

Applicants in the court challenge are expected to argue that the program, which requires inmates to be approved for participation, infringes on their rights due to its lack of confidentiality.

Story continues below advertisement

“Prisoners do not trust it. There is no working program in the world that uses this approach, which operates as a very strong barrier to access,” the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network said in a statement.

“At the same time, the (program) exists only in a handful of prisons and remains vulnerable to cancellation,” the organization said, adding the federal Conservatives have vowed to cancel it if they form government.

However, the judge overseeing the case has asked both sides to discuss whether it should be put on hold until the program has been in place long enough to be evaluated, which could push it back to late next year.

Simons said he hoped the case would not face further delays.

“It puts more prisoners at risk because they’re still sharing, so they need to get this moving quickly,” he said outside court.

A hearing was initially scheduled last month, but the case was put over.

Story continues below advertisement

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Related topics

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies