Alberta advocacy groups ask Ottawa to intervene in providing health IDs in controlled consumption places

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Alberta advocates are asking the federal minister for mental health and addictions to intervene after a court ruling that allows users to ask for personal health care numbers from supervised users.

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In an open letter, co-prosecutors Moms Stop the Harm and the Lethbridge Overdose Prevention Society, along with 10 allied co-signatories, ask Secretary of State Carolyn Bennett to write to her Alberta counterpart to “confirm federal jurisdiction over the regulation of supervised consumption services in Canada…and amending letters.” for class and individual location exemptions issued to service providers, to clarify that the mandatory collection of personally identifiable information is prohibited within federally exempt supervised consumer services.”

The advocacy groups are also asking Bennett for an immediate nationwide exemption from criminalization for simple drug possession, and to meet with the groups.

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The letter comes days after Queen’s Bench Justice court Paul Belzil rejected a petition for injunction against the Alberta government over new rules, including asking customers for personal health care numbers at controlled consumption locations. The groups argued that some customers will be deterred from using the sites, leading to an increase in overdoses.

Belzil wrote that while he believes some customers will suffer “irreparable harm” from overdosing — some of which could result in death — as a result of the new rule, this outweighs the need for the provincial government to allow to make policy decisions.

In a statement, Moms Stop the Harm co-founders Petra Schulz and Kym Porter called the Court of Queen’s Bench decision “unbelievable.”

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“We are angry, we are confused, we are beyond bewildered and, most importantly, we fear for the lives of the people who will now no longer have the low threshold to access supervised consumer services that are so essential. are to save lives,” they said. .

“We need to meet people where they are and build trusting relationships. Substance use is highly stigmatized and viewed as a crime in Canada, and people who use it have negative experiences with the health system. Asking for identification drives people away from services saving their lives, which in turn robs them of the ability to make the necessary connections to save lives.”

Timothy Slaney, co-founder of the Lethbridge Overdose Prevention Society, which was founded after the Lethbridge controlled consumption site closed, said volunteers understand how fragile trust can be between people who use drugs and the government.

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“This decision, which recognizes the loss of lives that will surely follow, but sees it as secondary to the government’s agenda, only reinforces the belief that for those in power in Alberta, some lives are only worth saving.” if they adhere to a limited, paternalistic, and above all moralizing ideal of recovery,” Slaney said.

“This decision only reaffirms to us that our mission and tactics are necessary, and we stand by the growing numbers of Canadians who recognize our right to care for our neighbors when our elected leaders refuse to fulfill their obligations.”

ajunker@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/JunkerAnna

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