Tuesday, August 26, 2008

B.C. vs the Feds over supervised injection site.

Globe and Mail: Legal arguments
August 25, 2008

The B.C. government will be fighting its federal counterpart in court when the
case of Vancouver's safe-injection site goes to appeal in April, arguing it has
final say over health care within the province.

The province plans to file a formal argument in October, when the federal government and the Portland Hotel Society, which runs Insite along with the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, file their arguments.

"We will be arguing that the Constitution grants provinces the right to make decisions about how health-care resources are allocated and delivered," B.C. Health Ministry spokesman David Karn said in an e-mail.

"The Attorney-General will appear to speak to the exclusive provincial jurisdiction over the delivery of community health services and the importance of permitting provinces to experiment and innovate in response to local health concerns.

"Mr. Justice Ian Pitfield awarded Insite a legal victory in May, ruling that federal drug laws preventing it from operating were unconstitutional, and giving Ottawa until June 30, 2009, to rewrite the laws. B.C. is including itself in both Ottawa's appeal and a cross-appeal opposing Judge Pitfield's ruling that the province doesn't have sole jurisdiction in health-care cases such as this.

A spokeswoman for federal Health Minister Tony Clement declined to comment because the case is before the courts.

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