Cameron Wigmore, Green Party Member: Green Party Supports Safe Injection Site

August 30, 2006

Green Party Supports Safe Injection Site

The poster to the left is a mockup I did for the Badlands Drug Coalition, a local addiction awareness group on which I sit as a member. I had fun making this poster. We didn't go with it though because the photo is not free for public use.

There is a media release regarding the insite program that I helped write just before the convention. I'm bringing it up now because there have been a bunch of new stories on this program in the news lately. Click on the title of this post for the media release and see links below for recent news stories.

Here are a few links:
Mom of drug addict calls on Prime Minister to keep safe-injection site open
Ottawa ethically obligated to treat addicts at safe-injection site: ethicist
RCMP responds to media reports concerning safe-injection site reviews
RCMP oppose expanded injection sites

If you feel so inclined, you can send a letter asking to continue the program to Tony Clement, Minister of Health. His contact information is:
1 866 375 8669
Tony Clement MP
202 Main Street West
Huntsville, Ontario
P1H 1X9

Also, the website, has a letter to Stephen
Harper that you can send from their webpage. It's at:

The following link is to a site that has some great ideas on how to make
your voice heard on this subject and more:

"We can't incarcerate the problem of addiction away."


Neo Conservative said...

Funding these places is like finding out your child has an insane compulsion to speed through red lights... and then, instead of ripping the car keys out of their hands, you go out and buy a Volvo stationwagon.

Cameron W said...

Hi Neo-con,

Thanks for the comment. I've replied here and at my blog as well.

One of the reasons to have a safe-injection site is to reduce the burden on the health care system and the taxpayer. Safe-injection sites have been shown to reduce rates of infectious diseases, in turn reducing the burden on the health care system. Onsite nurses can deal with overdoses, and for from the average death rate from overdoses of 40%, the deaths at Insite total ZERO. They are keeping addicts alive long enough for them to reach bottom and look for help. At the Insite safe-injection site addicts are finding it easier to ask for help, get clean and find a new way to live free from active addiction. This is social justice in action.

The myth that programs like this is just endorsing drug use is frustrating. Injection drug users are going to use drugs whether or not this program exists, and the average youth doesn't say, "hey, there's a safe-injection site. Maybe it's o.k. to try heroin."

It's our moral oblgation to help addicts out of their addiction. Keeping them alive long enough for them to find help, while saving tax payers money, seems like a good plan. Would you disagree?

I'm hoping you're openminded enough to consider my argument. I consider myself somewhat of an expert on this subject, given that I spent ten years in active addiction before making the decision to take charge of my live and break free from the cycle of addiction about six years ago.

Safe-injection sites are good for society.

Cameron W said...

Insite kept open!

Here's the latest news...

Some find timing of announcement on Vcr heroin injection site suspicious
20:20:04 EDT Sep 2, 2006
Canadian Press: ELIANNA LEV
VANCOUVER (CP) - Some experts are saying the decision to keep a safe heroin-injection site open until Dec. 31, 2007, while more research is conducted was a strategic move on the part of the federal government.

Although the announcement came well before the Sept. 12 deadline, it was made late in the day Friday, preceding the last long weekend of the summer.

In the release, Health Minister Tony Clement said more research was needed on how to get addicts off drugs.

"Given the need for more facts, I am unable to approve the current request to extend the Vancouver site for another three and a-half years," said Clement.

Releasing controversial news late in the week is a common political and corporate strategy used to deflect attention from hot-button issues.

"News that you're not especially proud of, you sneak it under the door on Friday," said Norman Ruff, professor emeritus at the University of Victoria. "It's like a student with a late essay."

Erik Waddell, a spokesman in the minister's office, said Clement had no plans to make himself available to explain the decision.

Called Insite, the pilot project allows addicts to shoot up their own heroin or cocaine in the presence of a nurse to prevent overdoses.


The fact that the Conservative government neither closed nor renewed the site raised questions from several experts.

Simon Fraser University political science professor Patrick Smith said it appeared that the minority Conservatives are trying to distance themselves from the safe injection site over a time-frame that many predict will see another federal election.

"My sense is that they're really just pushing it off the agenda. . .until another holiday weekend," Smith said. "Part of this may be a battle that's not entirely resolved in the government."

Liberal MP and former health minister Ujjal Dosanjh called the project's extension "cynical."

"This is all about politics," he said Saturday. "This announcement is not about health for them. . .which is a shame. This issue is not a partisan issue."

"(The government is) calming the concern of those who want to see the extension. . .I think that's a very cynical political ploy when you're essentially playing with people's lives."

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell, Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan, as well as former Vancouver mayors Phillip Owen and Larry Campbell, now a senator, have all rallied for Insite.

Just hours before the government announced its interim decision on Insite's fate, the Canadian Police Association called on Ottawa to stop financing it and instead invest in a national drug strategy instead.

Ruff said this doesn't appear to be coincidental.

"It wasn't serendipity that the two (announcements) happened together," he said.

Mark Townsend, a senior manager at the Portland Hotel Society - which helps run Insite - said although they're pleased the facility will remain open, they need to find a way to prove the project's value to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.


He stressed all aspects of the drug strategy need to be considered. The so-called four-pillar approach involves prevention, harm reduction, treatment and enforcement.

"You can't just delete one wheel from your car," said Townsend. "Otherwise, you're just going to roll off the cliff."

Other coverage:

Cameron W said...

Victoria needs three injection sites, study concludes

Report urging safe spots for addicts comes as Tories plan drug crackdown
Cindy E. Harnett, Times Colonist
Published: Thursday, May 24, 2007

Victoria needs three supervised drug injection sites, according to a soon-to-be released study commissioned by the city and the Island's health authority, the Times Colonist has learned.

The highly anticipated report is slated to be released at about the same time the federal government will unveil its tough, new anti-drug policy, which is expected to fund a crackdown on grow-ops and dealers instead of harm-reduction measures such as injection sites.

The feasibility study, conducted by the Centre for Addictions Research of B.C., concludes that creating supervised injection sites will limit the spread of infectious diseases, and will give users an area to seek treatment...

...However, the Harper government has questioned supervised injection sites, saying the government shouldn't be in the business of aiding drug abuse. Last September, InSite, located in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, was given a one-year extension to operate while the government studied the issue.

Lowe said if the Conservatives quash the concept of supervised injection sites, he'll continue to fight for it - even if he has to wait until there is a new government in Ottawa.

"I firmly believe a safe injection site is needed in the continuum of care," Lowe said.

"I believe they're closing the door on the option that may work and I believe it should be given the chance," he said, adding the standard ways of tackling drug abuse, through enforcement and more police officers on the street, haven't worked for decades.

Insite could be on chopping block

Rumours of a federal drug strategy that's expected to shy away from harm reduction methods has again raised questions about the future of Vancouver's supervised injection site.

The Conservatives are widely expected to release details of their drug strategy next week. But elements of the $64-million plan touched on in this year's budget are heavy on prevention and enforcement measures, but make no mention of Insite, the city's injection facility in the Downtown Eastside.

Researchers at Insite haven't been specifically told the facility will close when a Health Canada exemption allowing Insite to operate is up in December.

But after Health Minister Tony Clement, a vocal critic of the injection site, withdrew federal research funding from the program last year, the writing may be on the wall.

"The science is there. What we're seeing here is political interference," said Dr. Thomas Kerr with the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, who has led several research studies on Insite.

"I think it's a sad day for drug policy in Canada given that the Conservative government is now advocating a U.S.-style approach to drug policy that's been shown to fail."

Vancouver safe injection site led to boost in treatment: Study

New study says Insite increasing detox participation

Vancouver safe injection site users more likely to detox, start methodone: study

Cameron W said...

BC residents support liscence extension for Insite - Vancouvers supervised injection site (PDF)

Cameron W said...

Injection site saves lives, federal experts say

Cameron W said...

Health Canada panel gives injection site favourable review

Group of experts finds Insite is having a positive impact and even saving lives

Frances Bula, Vancouver Sun
April 12, 2008

Vancouver's much-debated supervised injection site for drug users is well supported by the community, provides as much as $4 in benefits for every dollar spent, doesn't cause increased drug use, doesn't appear to affect crime rates, encourages users to get treatment, and saves at least one person a year from dying of a drug overdose...