Supreme Court rejects injunction request over Alberta’s supervised consumption site policy

An Edmonton lawyer has failed in his attempt to weigh down the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision to suspend a policy requiring customers of a supervised consumption site to provide personal health care numbers.

Avnish Nanda said he was disappointed that the highest court in the land dismissed the case.

“It’s unfortunate on many levels,” Nanda told CBC News on Thursday. “Mark my words, we are going to see an increase in overdose deaths in Alberta.”

Plaintiffs Moms Stop the Harm and the Lethbridge Overdose Prevention Society are suing the Alberta government over a new rule, which came into effect in early April, that requires staff at supervised consumption sites to ask for phone numbers. provincial health insurance.

The policy states that services can still be provided if the client refuses to provide personal information or does not have a health insurance card.

Nanda said a full hearing may not take place for two or three years, prompting the request for a temporary injunction. The application was dismissed by a judge of the Court of Queen’s Bench and subsequently by the Alberta Court of Appeal.

The Alberta courts decided that while deaths could occur if clients avoided supervised consumption sites because of the identification requirement, the extent of the harm could not be determined and therefore did not reach the threshold for granting an injunction.

“One of the things we’ve asked the Supreme Court of Canada to address is the test for injunctive relief against the Alberta government,” Nanda said. “I think there have been three requests in the last three years for the court to clarify this law because the Court of Appeals keeps coming up with different frameworks.”

Lawyer Avnish Nanda is disappointed that the Supreme Court rejected his request. (Nanda Law)

Alberta recorded its deadliest year on record in 2021 for drug overdoses with 1,758 deaths.

Nanda fears the Supreme Court’s reluctance to hear the case is contributing to an ever-increasing death toll.

“This wave of overdose deaths is going to keep climbing,” Nanda said. “It hasn’t peaked. And it certainly won’t peak because of the policies of this government.

“We are going to see overdose death rates increase in the months to come and that will be a direct result of policies like this.”