Respect for Communities Act Receives Royal Assent - Legislation changes how applications for supervised drug injection sites are assessed

OTTAWA, June 22, 2015 /CNW/ - The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health, marked a major milestone today in the Government of Canada's commitment to protecting Canadians, with the Royal Assent of Bill C-2, the Respect for Communities Act.

The Act establishes rigorous criteria that must be addressed before the Minister of Health could consider an exemption application under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act for activities at a supervised drug injection site where illicit drugs would be used.

The new legislation brings greater clarity and transparency to the assessment of proposed supervised drug injection sites in Canada, and provides the Minister of Health with information required to balance public health and public safety considerations in accordance with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Under the Act, applicants for supervised drug injection sites will be required to seek the views of local law enforcement, municipal leaders, public health officials, and provincial and territorial ministers responsible for health. Families and local residents will also be consulted and have a say whenever there is a proposal to open a supervised drug injection site in their community.

Quick Facts

  • Under the new system, applicants seeking an exemption for activities at supervised drug consumption sites will need to provide information outlining the views of a number of key stakeholders and members of the local community.
  • Applicants will also be required to provide information on crime rates and public nuisances in the vicinity of the site, the public health reasons for needing such a site.
  • The National Anti-Drug Strategy includes pillars focused on prevention and access to treatment for individuals living with drug dependencies, in addition to enforcement activities.

"I am encouraged by the milestone we have reached today as the Respect for Communities Act receives Royal Assent. This law requires that the voices of law enforcement and parents be heard before drug injection sites can be considered to open in local neighbourhoods. Our Government is committed to supporting and protecting Canadian families and communities."
Rona Ambrose
Minister of Health

"The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police supports the principles being established as part of this bill, in particular, the need to balance public safety with public health. The decision to support or not support supervised consumption sites is a local community issue. We are pleased to see a clear process that will provide criteria for community consultation prior to a decision being made by the Minister of Health."
Chief Bryan Larkin
Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) Drug Abuse Committee Member (Waterloo Regional Police Service)

"The Drug Prevention Network of Canada is pleased to support the Respect for Communities Act. Any consideration to grant an exemption from the application of any provisions of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act must be taken very seriously. Thus, we feel that the amendments proposed by this bill are both appropriate and necessary in order to protect public safety and public health."
Chuck Doucette
Drug Prevention Network of Canada

Associated Links
June 2013 introduction of Respect for Communities Act


SOURCE Health Canada

For further information: Michael Bolkenius, Office of the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Federal Minister of Health, (613) 957-0200; Media Relations, Health Canada, (613) 957-2983; Public Inquiries: (613) 957-2991, 1-866 225-0709

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