Pubdate: Thu, 20 Feb 2014
Source: Georgia Straight, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2014 The Georgia Straight
Author: Travis Lupick


CRASS, CALLOUS, AND  unethical are three words the federal
representative for Vancouver Centre uses to describe a Conservative
Party website attacking supervised injection facilities like Insite.

"Addiction should be treated as a medical problem," Liberal MP Dr.
Hedy Fry told the Straight. "There is absolutely no reason that
politicians should be putting their heavy hands into clinical
decisions=C2=85.I think that this is ideology."

The website, titled "Keep heroin out of our backyards", asks citizens
to support new requirements for the approval of supervised injection
facilities. It's part of a new Conservative re-election strategy,
according to a February 10, 2014, report in the Toronto Star.

"Special interests are trying to open up these supervised drug
consumption sites in cities and towns across Canada," the website
states in an inaccurate reference to regional health

Fry characterized the campaign-which consists of a number of sites
delivering similar messages against harm reduction programs-as the
latest example of Ottawa's determined interference in Vancouver's
approaches to addiction.

Another instance, Fry said, is the Respect for Communities Act, which
she argued is an attempt to raise the regulatory bar for supervised
injection facilities so high that it would effectively ensure a place
like Insite never receives Ottawa's approval again.

A third is federal opposition to the SALOME trial, Fry continued. In
that experimental program, a small group of Vancouver patients
severely addicted to heroin and for whom methadone has proven an
ineffective form of treatment is administered controlled doses of
diacetylmorphine (prescription heroin).

"Once we start talking about government and politicians overruling
evidence and overruling public policy that has proven to work in many
places over a course of time, what we have is ideology interfering in
people's lives," Fry argued.

The federal Conservative Party did not respond to a request for an
interview. Sara Lauer, a spokesperson for Health Canada, said that an
interview on the topic of harm reduction would not be granted unless
questions were submitted in advance (something that the Straight does
not do).

Libby Davies, opposition health critic and NDP MP for Vancouver East,
told the Straight that Vancouver has always led the way on harm
reduction in Canada, which means the city has often had to battle the
federal government on new health-care programs that aren't always
properly understood.

Davies noted that the debate on facilities like Insite is essentially
over for Vancouver. For example, an application recently filed by a
West End clinic hoping to become North America's second legal
supervised injection site includes letters of support signed by
Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson and the city's chief of police. In
addition, B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake has voiced support for the
SALOME prescription heroin trial. But, Davies continued, the West
Coast's fight with Ottawa is actually worse than it's ever been.

"We're now dealing with a Conservative government that makes decisions
based on a partisan political belief rather than on evidence," she
explained. "That is a fundamental flaw and contrary to good decision
making that permeates almost everything here in Ottawa."
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