Some things just need to be said...

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Does Stephen Harper have any inSite?

Harper is wasting much time. People running inSite in Vancouver are waiting, they are having to spend valuable time planning advocacy for their site to force a government to do the right thing. How much evidence does Stephen Harper need to make the right decision?

"I'm worried, from a public health perspective, about what will happen if the site closes," said Dr. Wood, an epidemiologist at the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and an assistant professor in the department of medicine at the University of British Columbia. "I think there will be such a backlash in Vancouver when we go back to the same patterns of needles in storefronts and people injecting in public in the tourist areas of Gastown, that British Columbia will probably not tolerate it for long." - Globe and Mail, August 26, 2006

The safe injection site is the picture of good science and healthcare. The users, the police, the business community, and the British Medical Journal and The Lancet and The New England Journal of Medicine have strongly supportive articles/reports on the success of inSite. For crying out loud even the Fraser Institute says safe injection sites are the right thing to do, at least they did before it was established. I suspect they still like it. Now the international scientific journal Addiction Behaviors has a report that strongly supports the need for inSite.

Governments often campaign from one point of view only to be elected and learn that they were wrong and reverse their decision. Steffanie A. Strathdee, a professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health recently told attendees to AIDS Conference in Toronto, “If the Canadian government closes this site, they will have blood on their hands.” (Georgia Straight, August 17, 2006) Strathdee was listed as one of the top 100 Canadians to watch in the 1997 edition of MacLean's Magazine.

A report by criminologist Irwin M. Cohen, commissioned by the RCMP to examine the site found no increased crime, did not attract dealers and injection users from other jurisdictions did not flock to Vancouver as was feared by police and local businesses befiore the site was established. - Seattle PI, August 16, 2006

Tony Lam, the president of the Vancouver Chinatown Business Improvement Association told Associated Press "...merchants in the historic neighborhood noticed drug activity is much quieter since the site opened. They don't get together in the back lanes or under the stairways to get injections, so the outside look of Chinatown is much (more) peaceful than before." - Seattle PI, August 16, 2006

All the groups that held reservations with inSite, the police, the BC Liberal Government and the Chinatown merchants, now support its continuation of opperations.

September 18, 2006 is the day inSite will close if Stephen Harper is too proud to do the right thing.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

inSite ACT UP comes to Bloor and Yonge - AIDS 2006

The campaign to save insite in Vancouver took to the streets in Tornto today as many delegates from AIDS 2006 conference blocked traffic at Bloor and Yonge for approximately 15 minutes in an effort to get Prime Minister Stephen Harper's attention.

Vancouver is home to the only legal Safe Injection Site in North America and it will have to close should the Federal Conservative Government not extend its current exemption allowing health care workers and police to stand by while drug users inject drugs.

Recent reports in Medical Journal's support the success of insite in Vancouver. The Vancouver City Police and the RCMP have also indicated their continued support and validated it's success. BC Premier Gordon Campbell was quoted yesterday saying the Government of BC is supporting insite and have communicated it to Stephen Harper.

The Federal Conservative Health Minister, Tony Clement told a source his government was consulting with partners on the matter. What partners, who are they talking too? Focus on the Family? Real Women? It is not a surprise to the Harper government that an extention was going to be needed, the question remains, why have they not done so already?

Perhaps it has something to do with the two cancelled press conferences at the AIDS 2006 Conference todate. The Conservatives seem totally inept on HIV/AIDS issues and only days before the conference did they meet with AIDS groups.

Losing the Vancouver safe injection site will see many more people die and set harm reduction efforts back significantly.

A problem for Vancouver Coastal Health, the government organization operating the injection site, will be one of legal responsibilty. What if someone that had used the site regularily dies? Will their family or others take them to court for failure to provide access to a a safe facility given all the recent studies that prove the service is needed and a vital part of the health care system?

So many questions and the one guy who could answer them is hiding out in Canada's north. Could Stephen Harper get any farther away?

BLOC Health Critic, Christiane Gagnon told the media that if President Clinton can change his mind and support injection sites, then Stephen Harper can do it as well.