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Court of Appeal reserves decision on Alberta ID policy for supervised drug-use sites

(THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson) (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)
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EDMONTON -

Judges from Alberta's top court have reserved a decision on a request to stop a provincial policy that personal identification be shown to get into supervised consumption sites.

The rule, set to come into force Monday, would require people who are using drugs to show their health-care number to get access to the sites.

The Alberta Court of Appeal heard the emergency request after a judge denied an application earlier this month that, if successful, would have immediately suspended the requirement.

In his decision, Justice Paul Belzil concluded the injunction would have restricted the government's ability to formulate addictions policy - although he said irreparable harm could occur to some “illicit drug users” as a result of the failed application.

Edmonton-based Lawyer Avnish Nanda argued on behalf of his clients, Moms Stop the Harm and the Lethbridge Overdose Prevention Society, that Belzil's findings did not sufficiently consider substance users' right to life.

Lawyers representing the government have argued the identification rule will help service providers to guide people to recovery-focused supports and that guidelines afford discretion to operators.

“I just hope that the court will consider our arguments, review the full record and make a fair and just determination,” Nanda said Thursday.

“Government action that (could) kill people should be paused and not allowed to be implemented until it can be determined.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2022.