Project Inclusion is a comprehensive study into the ways in which specific laws and policies in policing, health care, and the court system directly undermine the health and safety of people who are homeless and living with substance use issues by trapping them in a cycle of criminalization. Pivot travelled to municipalities across British Columbia to hear directly from those affected and has gathered insight into how local laws and practices create harm by shaping lived experience. In essence, these laws and policies are setting people up to fail.
The analysis illustrates the interconnectedness of these “systems of harm” and the role stigma plays as an underpinning force fuelling human suffering. Project Inclusion also proposes innovative solutions, informed by those affected, as answers to these problems and a means to protect the health and human rights of people across the province. #ProjectInclusion
Project Inclusion by Chapter
Policing: The Impacts of Police and Policing
Project Inclusion participants shared experiences of harassment, displacement, threats, racism, and violence at the hands of police and policing institutions across BC. Police exist to serve and protect; but they are causing harm, particularly for people who are already living vulnerably, and are working in direct conflict with health authorities.
"Conditions of release" are widely applied to people involved with the criminal justice system, but police- and court-imposed conditions have a particularly harmful effect on those who are homeless and people who use substances. Conditions are being applied in a way that fails to acknowledge the complexities of homelessness and substance use, and therefore, are trapping people in a cycle of criminalization and actually producing criminality that undermines health and safety.
BC’s income support programs, shelters, and hospitals exist to serve people in need. But across the province, people are experiencing barriers to accessing income assistance, there are not enough safe and accessible shelter options, and stigma and racism are surfacing in how people are treated in hospitals. These are public services that should serve the public good, but their inaccessibility is putting the health, safety, and human rights of marginalized people at risk.
As part of our in-depth interviews for Project Inclusion, we found one thing connecting and driving the experiences of all study participants and the laws and policies discussed in this report: stigma. We close our report with the introduction of a new tool to audit for stigma in BC’s laws, policies, and provision of services. The aim is to reveal that which can be difficult to define or make tangible. By making stigma visible, we can change the systemic processes that hold it up and allow it to cause harm.
Using the law as a catalyst for positive social change, Pivot Legal Society works to improve the lives of marginalized communities.