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Safe injection services will expand, says Vancouver Coastal Health doctor

04/02/2015 01:19 EDT | Updated 06/02/2015 05:59 EDT
Vancouver Coastal Health is optimistic it will expand its supervised injection services, despite federal legislation that critics fear will make it harder to open new facilities.

Dr. John Carsley, Medical Health Officer, says supervised injection sites, like Insite in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, have proven successful and there is a need for expansion throughout B.C.'s Lower Mainland.

"Right now people are lining up and they shouldn't have to line up," said Carsley.

​He envisions more supervised injection services being established in community health centres throughout the region.

"Where are the people who need the services? That actually should guide our planning for all health services, not just safe injection sites."

Government opposed to safe injection sites

Last week, Parliament passed Bill C-2, the Respect for Communities Act and it is now making it way through the Senate.

As Canada's first supervised injection site, Insite has received a Health Canada exemption that allows it to continue to operate.

Vancouver Coastal Health is required to apply for an exemption every year in order to keep operating the facility.

Carsely says if passed, the proposed legislation could make the process of applying for an exemption more onerous and time consuming.

The Conservative government is opposed to supervised injection sites and has taken its fight against the facilities to the Supreme Court of Canada. 

In a landmark 2011 ruling, the court found that not allowing the clinic to operate would violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In the end, Carsley says, he is optimistic the latest proposed legislation will not become a major stumbling block for expansion.

To hear the full interview with Dr. Carsley, listen to the audio labelled : Supervised safe injection expansion

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