How a Prorogued Parliament Could Help Harm Reduction

Today the Conservative government prorogued the Canadian parliament. What this means is that the current legislative agenda, on hold when parliament recessed for the summer, is now dead. This move does not come as much of a surprise given the recent cabinet shuffle that signaled some shifts in direction for the current government, and prorogation will give them a chance to reboot its legislative and parliamentary agenda.

This is potentially good news for those of us who have been watching the progression of Bill C-65 (Respect for Communities act). The extensive provisions of Bill C-65 promised to make it more difficult to implement new supervised injection services in Canada because of the myriad levels of approval that service providers would need to demonstrate in their applications (potential service providers must make an application to the federal Minister of Health for an exemption to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act if they wish to shield clients and staff from potential drug charges). Now that Bill C-65 is dead it gives us some breathing room to continue to work on getting more supervised injection services in Canada.

But dead does not necessarily mean buried. The CDPC will be watching closely when the Harper government announces its new legislative agenda in the fall. There’s always the chance the Harper government could reintroduce the bill in either its current form or as a revised attempt to muzzle harm reduction in Canada. Stay tuned. You know we will be.

In the meantime, September 30, 2013 (9/30) is the second anniversary of the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision that allowed Insite (Vancouver’s supervised injection site) to stay open. The CDPC is working with our partners across the country to encourage local groups to host events and activities that mark this important occasion and raise the profile of safer consumption services in Canada. We hope you will join or help organize one of these events in your community.

For organizations: Consider creating a mock injection site open to the public and the media and ask local supportive nurses to be on hand to answer questions. You might also want to do something simple like creating a media release making the case for these services in your city.

For individuals: Send a letter to the local paper expressing your dismay at the lack of support for safer consumption services in your region or write an editorial for you local paper and along the lines of the letter suggested above. Visit your local MP, mayor, or other politicians and make the case for these services in your community. Let them know that the safety and health of every member of your community is important and that’s why you support these services. And don’t forget to the write letters to the Prime Minister’s Office expressing your concerns about the lack of federal support for harm reduction services.

We are creating a tool kit of ideas for this day so contact Connie Carter if you would like more information.

Connie Carter

About Connie Carter

Connie Carter, Ph.D. is the Senior Policy Analyst at the CDPC and a graduate of the UVIC Department of Sociology. She received a Bombardier Fellowship for her work analyzing citizen groups and government policy-makers as they responded to the issue of crystal meth use in BC in the early 2000s.

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