June 18th, 2024

SCS decision confirms provincial jurisdiction, says gov’t spokesman

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on January 18, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

The provincial government feels a Court of Queen’s Bench justice made clear his reasons in denying an injunction filed by two groups trying to prevent Alberta from enacting new regulations for the operation of supervised consumption sites.
A 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.
Last week, Edmonton NDP Member of Parliament Heather McPherson told The Herald she is asking Ottawa to intervene in the matter, saying she’s concerned about the legislation due to joint jurisdiction between federal and provincial governments.
Press secretary Eric Engler from the Associate Minister’s office in Alberta’s department of Mental Health and Addiction, said in a written statement Monday that Court of Queen’s Bench Justice R. Paul Belzil “was clear in his judgement that the delivery of health care services falls squarely within provincial jurisdiction. It would set a dangerous precedent for the federal government to trample on provincial jurisdiction in this or any other matter that concerns the delivery of health care.”
He added “First and foremost, Justice Belzil was clear in his judgement that the delivery of health services falls squarely within provincial jurisdiction.”
Belzil stated in his ruling on Page 11 of his decision, writing that:
[65] – SCS operate under the protection of s. 56.1 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act which provides for an exemption from the application of the de-allowing for the consumption of prohibited drugs.
[66] – The applicants argue that the challenged Regulation encroaches on federal jurisdiction in criminal law by allegedly undermining legislative purpose of a. 56.1, this engaging the issue of paramountcy. I do not agree.
[67] – Legislative responsibility for health is shared between the federal government and the provinces with the delivery of health services, falling squarely within provincial jurisdiction.
“I’m deeply concerned people are going to lose their lives while we debate this in the court. The judge acknowledged a loss of life, that there would be damages and that just seems unacceptable to me,” said McPherson in her interview with the paper.
McPherson was referring to one line in Belzil’s judgement in which he stated, “I am satisfied that the applicants have met the burden of establishing irreparable harm will occur to some illicit drug users if the Interlocutory injunction is not granted” before addressing his reasons for denying the appeal.

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The judge made the correct decision with respect to whom has jurisdiction. However, left the can of worms open emotionally.

Last edited 2 years ago by buckwheat