Supreme Court of Canada dismisses case over supervised consumption site ID requirements

The injunction was initially dismissed in January. An appeal was filed but Alberta’s top court again dismissed the case on Jan. 27

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Canada’s highest court will not hear a bid to temporarily block supervised consumption sites from asking for personal health-care numbers of clients.

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The injunction was initially dismissed in January by Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Paul Belzil. But lawyer Avnish Nanda, representing the plaintiffs appealed and the case was heard by the Court of Appeal of Alberta on Jan. 27. Days later, the case was also dismissed by Alberta’s top court.

While the courts determined irreparable harm — including death — may occur to clients who are determined from using the sites by being asked for personal information, the extent of the harm is difficult to ascertain, and therefore does not meet the threshold to grant an injunction.

The government has said that asking for personal health numbers is standard practice for health services, and clients will be asked for theirs upon an initial visit. However, no clients will be refused services if they do not provide their health number.

In 2021, 1,771 Albertans died of a drug poisoning, the highest number since the province began tracking deaths in 2016.

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