supervised consumption service lawsuit in Alberta supervised consumption service lawsuit in Alberta
The Government of Alberta is threatening the health and safety of people who use drugs by rolling back reforms introduced by the federal Liberals in 2017 and imposing additional barriers to accessing supervised consumption services. The Liberal reforms in 2017 made it easier to set up harm reduction services in the province. The Government of Alberta has now introduced onerous requirements to service providers and service users that will make it more difficult to access and provide life-saving care.
These requirements include the following:
- Providing a name and personal identifying information to access service
- Good Neighbourhood agreements that far exceed current consultation requirements that make it virtually impossible to open any new harm reduction sites or renew existing ones
- Standards for staff qualification and training that will exclude many people with lived and living experience
- Onerous reporting requirements that are impossible for grassroots organizations, often operating out of a tent, to operate
- High fines for non-compliance that will bankrupt small agencies
In response, Moms Stop the Harm and the Lethbridge Overdose Prevention Society (LOPS) have commenced legal action against the Government of Alberta to ensure that no additional barriers to access and provision of life-saving supervised consumption services are introduced.
“We know that our children would not have died had their overdoses taken place at a consumption site. This option was not available to them at the time. We also know how stigma and shame made them hide their use. We strongly oppose the new provincial guidelines as they will create barriers that will keep people from life-saving services. We know how hard it is to grieve someone you love and every overdose reversed is a family that does not need to arrange a funeral. This is why we launched this lawsuit together with LOPS—to save lives and to give people hope for the future.”Kym Porter and Petra Schulz, Moms Stop the Harm
Both organizations argue that these changes—introduced in “Guidelines” by the Government of Alberta—conflict with the federal government’s goal of improving access to harm reduction services in 2017. They also allege that the Guidelines breach sections 2(a), 2(b), 7, 8, 12, and 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.