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.