News / Vancouver

Other injection site to back Insite in Ottawa

Operators of Vancouver's other - and lesser known - supervised injection program will share their harm-reduction model with Canada's highest court as a high-profile federal appeal to shutdown Insite gets underway in Ottawa tomorrow.

"It would be unconscionable for health-care providers such as us and Insite to send people back out on the street," said Maxine Davis, executive director of the Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation, an intervener in the case.

"While the outcome is specifically about Insite, we also provide a supervised injection service.

We want to share with the court our experience and why it is important."

While Insite, the supervised injection site in the Downtown Eastside, has been a lightning rod for controversy since it opened, the Dr. Peter Centre has quietly operated a small, supervised injection program for almost a decade in Vancouver's West End.

The program, which launched 18 months ahead of Insite, is integrated into a broad range of services that includes hot meals, art and music therapy and counselling.

In March, Dr. Perry Kendall, B.C.'s provincial health officer, published a report recommending that supervised injection services (based on the Dr. Peter Centre model) be integrated into public health clinics across the province to reduce HIV infection.

"Once many of those basic issues in your life are being taken care of on a daily basis, you can actually begin to reflect on your life and what you may want to do to move forward in a way that is healthy," Davis said.

The federal government brought the appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada after a pair of defeats in B.C. courts.