New federal regulations will make it virtually impossible to open a safe injection site in cities like Regina and Saskatoon, a public health advocacy group says.
The Harper government is currently in the process of passing the Respect for Communities Act, which requires several levels of public consultation before a community can apply to open a supervised injection site.
Public Health Physicians of Canada spokesperson Dr. Rosana Pellizzari says the new regulations are so cumbersome it will prevent any new safe injection sites opening beyond the current one in Vancouver.
“So, essentially, this legislation would effectively stop any future supervised injection sites from being developed which would in itself be a crime,” she says.
Advocates of safe injection sites say they greatly reduce the spread of HIV and hepatitis C infection by limiting the number of contaminated needles in the high-risk drug community.
According to Saskatchewan Health statistics, the number of Aboriginal people who reported HIV infections rose by about 77% between 2004 and 2009.
These statistics also show Aboriginal people made up the same percentage of all reported cases of HIV during these years at 77%.