Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario

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Nurses Praise Supreme Court Ruling: Insite Saves Lives and Improves Health

2011-09-30

TORONTO, Sept. 30, 2011 – A coalition of three nursing associations representing nurses from across the country say the Supreme Court of Canada’s unanimous ruling today to keep Insite - Vancouver’s safe injection facility - open is a great victory for harm reduction and for the clients who rely on the facility for help and support.

“This ruling puts health first,” says Doris Grinspun, executive director of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO). “The court made a clear finding that Insite saves lives and that nurses play an important role in harm reduction. We’ve always believed this facility needed to remain open so nurses and other health-care professionals can continue to provide their clients with expert support and help them overcome their addiction.”

RNAO, the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) and the Association of Registered Nurses of British Columbia (ARNBC) were granted intervener status before the high court when the court heard arguments in May.

“Nurses throughout Canada are incredibly encouraged by this decision,” says Rachel Bard, chief executive officer of CNA. “We see firsthand the evidence of how well harm reduction programs work to improve the health of Canadians, especially vulnerable populations dealing with poverty, mental illness and homelessness. As nurses, we’re responsible for and committed to providing safe, compassionate, competent care and improving the health of those in need.”

“Insite wouldn’t be successful without the nurses and other health-care professionals. They play an integral role in harm reduction,” says Rob Calnan, co-chair of ARNBC.

Nurses with the three groups say today’s decision goes beyond Vancouver and raises the possibility that similar facilities could open in other jurisdictions where harm reduction programs are deemed necessary for public health. The nursing associations say it’s important to engage the public and muster the political will of all elected officials so people in all jurisdictions can get the treatment they need and deserve.

When created in 2003, Insite operated under an exemption to a federal law governing the use of controlled drugs and substances. That exemption expired in 2008, and was not renewed by the Conservative government. Two court decisions in B.C. upheld Insite’s ability to continue operating. Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the federal government’s appeal of the B.C. court rulings.

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 initiatives.

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Marion Zych, Director of Communications, RNAO
Cell: 647-406-5605 / Office: 416-408-5605
Toll free: 1-800-268-7199 ext. 209
mzych@rnao.org

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