May 28th, 2024

LOPS loses court challenge


By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on January 11, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

A Court of Queen’s Bench judge has ruled in favour of the province in a lawsuit filed over legislation involving supervised consumption sites.
The lawsuit by the Lethbridge Overdose Prevention Society and Moms Stop the Harm Society was launched on Aug. 13, 2021 to prevent the government from enacting new rules for the sites.
A judge, however, ruled against the injunction they were seeking.
The lawsuit specifically stated that “Plaintiffs seek an Order declaring portions of a regulation (the challenged Regulation) pertaining to the consumption of illicit drugs at Supervised Consumption Sites (SCS) to be constitutionally invalid and inoperable and of no force and effect as a result of alleged breaches of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
Justice R. Paul Belzil wrote “LOPS has not met the burden of demonstrating that the suspension of the challenged regulation would provide a public benefit greater than the public interest provided for in the challenged regulation.
“In the result, I concede that the balance of convenience does not weigh in favour of granting the Interlocutory Injunction and accordingly, the application was dismissed.”
In his decision, the judge wrote “the applicants argue that the challenged Regulation encroaches on federal jurisdiction in criminal law by allegedly undermining the legislative purpose of s.56.1, thus engaging the issue of paramountcy. I do not agree.
“Legislative responsibility for health is shared between the Federal Government and the Province with the delivery of health services, falling squarely within provincial jurisdiction.
“If this Interlocutory application succeeded, Alberta’s ability to format addiction policy, pending the outcome of the action, would be severely restricted.”
The decision also states “the opioid overdose epidemic raises a number of very complex issues. Public Health Authorities in Alberta are struggling to respond to this epidemic, as are Public Health Authorities in every other Province and Territory in Canada.
“The challenged Regulation is part of an overall strategy to respond to the opioid overdose epidemic within the broader framework of the healthcare system.
“Whether one agrees or disagrees with this approach, it cannot be denied that Alberta is responding with a defined policy and not ignoring the issue,” wrote the judge.
The Overdose Prevention Services Guide of the province sites several regulations for operating supervised consumption sites here.
The regulations require that operators of both consumption sites and overdose prevention sites must meet licensing requirements under the province’s Mental Health Services Protection Act and Mental Health Services Protection Regulation.
Regulations also ensure there is community engagement and consultation, as well as appropriate pathways to referral for people using on site. The regulations also address site safety and security, needle debris and cleanup and calls for employees to be trained and qualified to work at the sites.
Regulations also require that appropriate records are created and retained and operators must collect a personal health number from each client on intake, and if one isn’t available, service providers must call a number to get it. If clients don’t have an active Alberta Health Insurance plan, operators are required to help them during intake to acquire or renew coverage.

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Dennis Bremner

Well finally a judge with some common sense!