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Alberta Court of Appeal reserves decision on ID policy for supervised drug use sites

Click to play video: 'Alberta Court of Appeal reserves decision on ID policy for supervised drug consumption sites'
Alberta Court of Appeal reserves decision on ID policy for supervised drug consumption sites
Alberta’s top court heard an urgent appeal today by harm reduction advocates who want to stop a provincial policy that requires supervised drug consumption site clients to identify themselves. Nicole Stillger has more – Jan 27, 2022

Judges from Alberta’s top court have reserved a decision on a request to stop a provincial policy that personal identification be shown to get into supervised consumption sites.

The rule, set to come into force Monday, would require people who are using drugs to show their health-care number to get access to the sites.

The Alberta Court of Appeal heard the emergency request after a judge denied an application earlier this month that, if successful, would have immediately suspended the requirement.

In his decision, Justice Paul Belzil concluded the injunction would have restricted the government’s ability to formulate addictions policy — although he said irreparable harm could occur to some “illicit drug users” as a result of the failed application.

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Click to play video: 'Alberta’s top court to hear urgent appeal on ID policy for supervised drug consumption sites'
Alberta’s top court to hear urgent appeal on ID policy for supervised drug consumption sites

Edmonton-based Lawyer Avnish Nanda argued on behalf of his clients, Moms Stop the Harm and the Lethbridge Overdose Prevention Society, that Belzil’s findings did not sufficiently consider substance users’ right to life.

Lawyers representing the government have argued the identification rule will help service providers to guide people to recovery-focused supports and that guidelines afford discretion to operators.

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“I just hope that the court will consider our arguments, review the full record and make a fair and just determination,” Nanda said Thursday.

“Government action that (could) kill people should be paused and not allowed to be implemented until it can be determined.”

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