TORONTO, Feb. 28 /CNW/ - A coalition of three nursing associations
representing nurses from across the country will make arguments in
favour of keeping the doors to Vancouver's Insite facility open when
the Supreme Court of Canada hears the case in May.
The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO), the Canadian
Nurses Association (CNA) and the Association of Registered Nurses of
British Columbia (ARNBC) have been granted intervener status before the
"We're extremely pleased the voice of nurses will be considered when the
court begins looking into this appeal," says David McNeil, RNAO's
president. "Nurses know that harm reduction, including supervised
injection, is an essential tool in a comprehensive health-care strategy
for substance misuse and addiction. Insite has a long track record of
success and we believe this facility should remain open so nurses and
other health-care professionals can continue to work with clients to
reduce the risks associated with addiction and injection."
Insite was set up in 2003 when the federal Liberal government was in
power. Since the Conservatives came to power in 2006, Insite has been
defending attempts to shut its doors.
Two court decisions in B.C. have upheld Insite's ability to continue
operating. However, in June 2010, the Supreme Court of Canada agreed to
hear the federal government's appeal of the B.C. court rulings.
The nursing associations argue there is ample evidence and research that
backs up the effectiveness of the Insite facility and that politics has
no place in clinical decision-making to help people overcome their
Dr. Judith Shamian, president of CNA, notes that the principles of harm
reduction are aligned with the nursing values expressed in CNA's Code
of Ethics - values that consider the social conditions that can lead to
inequities and risky behaviours. She says, "evidence shows that harm
reduction works. It saves lives, it saves our health and legal systems
money and it treats vulnerable groups with dignity, supporting a
population that is hard to reach due to high levels of homelessness and
"Harm reduction for people struggling with addiction includes advising
on safe injection practices, providing equipment to prevent infection
and overdose, and helping them access treatment for their illness,"
says Rob Calnan, co-chair of ARNBC. "The nurses at Insite do this every
day, and in doing so, are practising in full compliance with the
professional standards of nursing." ARNBC believes that it is essential
that Insite be allowed to continue to operate legally. Otherwise,
Calnan says, "nurses working there will be forced to make a choice
between helping ill people in desperate need in keeping with their
professional standards and breaking the law. We cannot put nurses in
Nurses with the three groups also point out that the outcome of this
case goes beyond the Vancouver site because it can potentially affect
the implementation of harm reduction programs in other parts of the
The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional
association representing registered nurses wherever they practise in
Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has advocated for healthy public policy,
promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses' contribution
to shaping the health-care system, and influenced decisions that affect
nurses and the public they serve.
CNA is the national professional voice of registered nurses in Canada. A
federation of 11 provincial and territorial nursing associations and
colleges representing 143,843 registered nurses, CNA advances the
practice and profession of nursing to improve health outcomes and
strengthen Canada's publicly funded, not-for-profit health system.
The Association of Registered Nurses of British Columbia (ARNBC) was
incorporated in July 2010 and represents nurses from all service
sectors and domains of practice. The Association's mandate is to
advance the profession's perspectives in health and social policy
The nursing associations are being represented by Rahool Agarwal,
Michael Kotrly and John M. Picone from the law firm Ogilvy Renault.
SOURCE Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario
For further information:
To arrange an interview with a nurse or for more information, please contact:
Marion Zych, Director of Communications, RNAO
Toll free: 1-800-268-7199 ext. 209