January 15, 2016 3:09 pm
Updated: January 15, 2016 3:26 pm

Feds finally approve Vancouver safe-injection site operating for 14 years

Richard Chenery prepares heroin he bought on the street to be injected at the Insite safe injection clinic in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday May 11, 2011.

Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER – After years of intense political opposition to safe-injection sites, Health Canada has granted approval for the operation of a second clinic in Vancouver.

The Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation has run a safe-injection site for its clients since 2002, but the approval gives the clinic an exemption under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

The centre cares for HIV patients who may also have complex health and social issues, including mental illness and addictions.

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READ MORE: Opening five safe-injection sites makes financial sense for Ontario: study

Health Canada says international and Canadian evidence shows that safe-injection sites have the potential to save lives and improve health without increasing drug use and crime in surrounding areas.

Centre executive director Maxine Davis says the clinic’s exemption shows the federal government understands that supervised injection reduces the harms of drug use for injection drug addicts.

The former Conservative government waged a long legal battle against North America’s only free-standing safe-injection site — in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside — but the Supreme Court of Canada ruled it could stay open.

© 2016 The Canadian Press

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