AUGUST 11, 2006 - VANCOUVER - NDP MP Libby Davies (Vancouver East) is calling for the immediate renewal of a Health Canada exemption to allow North America's only Safe Injection Site, InSite, to continue to operate, and put an end to the uncertainty facing staff and users of the site.
"The human cost is too high for the government to stall on renewing this program," said Davies. "The theme of this year's World AIDS Conference is Time to Deliver, and it couldn't be a more appropriate message for federal Health Minister Tony Clement," she added.
InSite began as a three-year study and legally operates due to an exemption by Health Canada under Section 56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Overall reviews of the program have shown its success in reducing overdose deaths and increasing the number drug users entering detoxification programs and addiction treatment in the Downtown Eastside.
Davies, who has written to both Prime Minister Harper and Minister Clement to save the program, renewed her call in the wake of concerns raised by Dr. Julio Montaner, head of the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, for the future of InSite and its skilled research staff.
If the exemption is not renewed as of September 12, 2006, the program will shut down.
"Over 20 000 participants from across the globe will be in Canada to talk about steps forward. North America's only Safe Injection Site is on the agenda of the World Conference and is understood to be a successful, evidence-based approach to reducing HIV infection among intravenous drug users," added Davies.