Bill C-37, which outlines the steps necessary to open a supervised injection site (SIS) in Canada, was passed into law yesterday. The process now requires 5 conditions be met in applying to open a SIS, rather than the 26 required under the former Bill (C-2) governing the injection site application process. This new Bill removes some of the many other roadblocks that were set up in Bill C-2, including the requirement of multiple support letters from police (among others) for any proposed injection site.
“The Government of Canada is committed to an approach to this crisis that is comprehensive, collaborative, compassionate and evidence-based. We are pursuing a public health approach.”
PAN applauds the new legislation and the commitment by the federal government to move towards making decisions based on the evidence. A shift to a public health approach (rather than the ongoing criminalization of people who use drugs) echoes one of the key recommendations articulated within PAN’s Canadian Drug Policy, Supervised Consumption Sites & Provincial Response to the Public Health Crisis of Overdose Deaths report (which documents the community consultations held at the October 2016 PAN Fall conference). As PAN and many of our member organizations maintain:
“Canada’s national drug policy needs to shift from being prohibitive to harm reduction-oriented, with a public health focus that prioritizes the safety and health needs of people who use drugs.”
The passage of this bill into law yesterday, follows on the heels of the 25th International Harm Reduction Conference in Montreal (which wrapped up on May 17th). Many Canadian advocates who have worked tirelessly for policy reforms were in attendance, along with international attendees – discussing various approaches to harm reduction and to promoting the health, wellness and human rights of some of the most vulnerable in our societies.
As the overdose crisis continues to march on here in BC and across Canada, we need to continue to push for policy and practices that reduce unnecessary harm and save lives. Bill C-37 will make a difference to harm reduction provision in Canada, but much work remains to be done. We will keep our members and community updated as more information becomes available.
Questions? Feedback? Get in touch!
Jennifer Evin Jones, Executive Director [email protected]