Supporters are pleased about a B.C. Supreme Court decision regarding Insite, a supervised safe-injection facility in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, while critics are disappointed the bigger issues remain unresolved.
In a 60-page ruling Tuesday, Justice Ian Pitfield gave Insite an exemption from Canada’s drug laws until the end of June 2009.
‘Critics’ is a bit generous, as the article only cites Vancouver police union president Tom Stamatakis. Apparently the Vancouver police department supports the project, but the union doesn’t.
Regardless of what you think about heroin addicts or the ‘war on drugs’, Insite makes so much sense. Let’s get callous for a second, and consider the savings in healthcare costs alone. There have been over 500 overdoses (PDF) over a two-year period at Insite (with zero fatalities). On
sight site medical staff dealt with six in ten of those, and only one in ten required hospitalization. The cost of the facility over that period was $1 million. How many of those 450 overdose cases would otherwise have ended up in a costly hospital visit? And how much does each prevented fatality save the government?
Insite’s website cites (argh!) a whole suite of benefits (with references) to addicts, the community and the bottom line.
I looked, and couldn’t find any evidence-based criticisms of the facility. Instead, there’s just silly rhetoric from the moral high ground. When Insite opened, an official in the Bush administration called it ‘state-sponsored suicide’. Insite just works. It’s a cost-effective, harm-reductive health facility. I’m glad that our provincial Supreme Court found in favour in project–I trust our federal government will see things the same way.