Prisons- We have recognized the disproportionate number of people who use drugs in prison and the lack of services for people with addictions inside prisons as an important public health and human rights issue. In order to address the potentially exponential growth of people with addictions in prison, in spring 2013 we will be launching a report looking at the impacts of the Safe Streets and Communities Act (better know as the Omnibus Crime Bill) for low-income drug users. The report, based on the life stories of drug users in Vancouver and Victoria, also includes a Charter analysis of many of the Act’s provisions. We have also formed a coalition with Prisoners Legal Services and the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users to intervene in the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network’s case on the Charter right to clean syringes in Canada’s federal prisons. We expect to file for leave to intervene in early spring 2013.
Heroin-Assisted Treatment - The over-arching goal of this project is to ensure that Heroin-Assisted Treatment (HAT) is available to all patients for whom it is recommended. There are two mid-term goals:
- an exit strategy that includes access to HAT for patients currently enrolled in the SALOME study
- a pilot HAT program available to people with addictions in Vancouver.
We are working with the BC Association of People on Methadone and individuals enrolled in the SALOME study to to ensure individual patients have access to ongoing medical care as they begin to get cut off of the SALOME trial in early 2013 while we work for a HAT option of everyone who needs it through the public health system.
Anti-harm reduction methadone bylaws- Over the past ten years, a growing number of BC municipalities have amended to their zoning bylaws to restrict access to methadone and harm reduction services. We take the position that these amendments overstep municipal zoning powers, are discriminatory in that they distinguish health care services for drug users from other healthcare uses and result in geographically unequal access to health care. We also take the position that the Province and local health authorities are discriminating by failing to provide healthcare in spite of these bylaws. We are working with drug users to secure changes to these bylaws in a number of municipalities.
InSite Supervised Injection Facility - In 2004 Pivot received an Award for Action on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights from the Canadian Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS for its work to establish the first sanctioned supervised injection site in North America. Pivot provided legal support for an unofficial safe injection site which preceded the opening of the Provincial government-funded facility. Since then, Pivot has been active in the lengthy legal battle to keep the supervised injection site open in the face of Federal Government opposition. In September of 2011, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that InSite can continue to operate and provide life-saving health services to injection drug users.
Defending Health Services for Drug Users - In 2001, the Health Contact Centre opened at Hastings and Main to provide low-barrier medical care to people living in the Downtown Eastside. A coalition of business groups calling itself the “Community Alliance” launched a legal petition against the centre, which served many people living with addictions. Pivot represented the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) in the case. Focusing on the impact of closing the centre on its users, Pivot persuaded the Community Alliance to abandon the challenge.