CUPE supports WHO's stance on safe injection sites
MEXICO CITY, Mexico, Aug. 7 /CNW Telbec/ - Members of the Canadian Union
of Public Employees - who are representing CUPE at the XVII International AIDS
Conference in Mexico City this week - were disappointed and embarrassed by
Health Minister Tony Clement's comments at the conference denouncing Insite,
Vancouver's internationally-lauded safe injection site.
"This is the first time I am embarrassed to be a Canadian abroad," said
Gerry Lavallee, co-chair of CUPE's National Pink Triangle Committee. "I am
ashamed that our Canadian Minister of Health, Tony Clement, decided that on
this day, on this world stage, he was going to open his mouth and firmly stick
both feet into it."
"When Minister Clement says 'we believe safe injection sites are a form
of harm addition', who is he speaking for?" asked Lavallee. "The 'we' he
speaks of does not include Canadian AIDS Activists or health care workers."
Clement explained in an interview in Mexico City that "it's not my job to
kowtow to orthodoxy."
"Instead, Clement is thinking outside the box by favouring social
conservatism over hard scientific evidence that says the Insite model prevents
overdoses and the spread of HIV while keeping healthcare and law-enforcement
budgets down," observed Procyk.
Safe injection sites are also strongly endorsed by the World Health
Organization and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) as an
effective harm-reduction measure. In a guide released earlier this week, the
WHO identified safe injection sites like Insite as "priority interventions" to
help slow the spread of HIV.
Roger Procyk, a community health care worker and member of CUPE's
National Aboriginal Council echoed Lavallee's support of Insite, saying
"Though the location is in Vancouver, the people who need and use its services
are from all across Canada; their families and friends are glad it is there as
a beacon of hope and support."
For further information: Allison Gifford, CUPE Communications, (613)
237-1590 ext. 268