ARCHIVED — Vol. 149, No. 14 — July 15, 2015

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Registration

SI/2015-63 July 15, 2015

RESPECT FOR COMMUNITIES ACT

Order Fixing the Day on which this Order is made as the Day on which the Act Comes into Force

P.C. 2015-1052 June 30, 2015

His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Health, pursuant to section 6 of the Respect for Communities Act, chapter 22 of the Statutes of Canada, 2015, fixes the day on which this Order is made as the day on which that Act comes into force.

EXPLANATORY NOTE

(This note is not part of the Order.)

Proposal

This Order, pursuant to section 6 of the Respect for Communities Act, fixes the day on which this Order is made as the day the Respect for Communities Act comes into force giving effect to amended provisions of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA).

Objective

The objective of the Order is to bring into force An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, also known as the Respect for Communities Act (the Act) [Bill C-2].

Amendments to the CDSA include

  • dividing section 56 into two distinct exemption regimes for activities with licit and illicit substances. The regime for application of activities with licit substances will remain unchanged and will maintain the current categories of medical, scientific, and public interest purposes for granting exemptions. The regime for exemption applications for activities with illicit substances will be narrowed to medical, law enforcement or prescribed purpose;
  • creating a specific section for activities with illicit substances at supervised consumption sites (SCS) under the medical category. This section will detail criteria that must be addressed by an applicant seeking an exemption for activities involving illicit substances at an SCS before the Minister of Health could consider such an application;
  • authorizing the Minister to publicly post a notice of application concerning proposed activities at an SCS and seek public input over a ninety-day comment period; and
  • extending the current inspection authorities to apply to SCSs and enable inspections prior to the granting of an exemption to verify if information provided in an application is accurate.

Background

In September 2011, the Supreme Court of Canada issued its decision regarding Insite, a supervised injection site in Vancouver. The Court affirmed the discretionary power of the Minister to grant exemptions from the application of the CDSA but stated that the exercise of this discretion must balance public health and public safety concerns in accordance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the Charter). The Court specified factors the Minister must consider when assessing an application for a supervised injection site. These include evidence, if any, on the impact of a site on crime rates; local conditions indicating a need for such a site; the regulatory structure in place to support the facility; resources available to support its maintenance; and, expressions of community support or opposition.

The amendments to the CDSA build upon the five factors set out in the Supreme Court decision. The Act sets out criteria that must be addressed by an applicant seeking an exemption to undertake activities with illicit substances at an SCS, before the Minister of Health can consider the application. By addressing the criteria outlined in the Act the applicant would provide the Minister of Health with information needed to balance public health and public safety considerations in accordance with the Charter when assessing such applications.

In addition, the Act provides the Minister of Health an opportunity to hear and consider the opinions of communities and key stakeholders concerning proposed SCSs.

Implications

Almost all the exemptions currently granted under section 56 of the CDSA are for activities using controlled substances obtained through licit sources (such as a drug manufacturer or pharmacist). The process for considering these exemption applications would not be impacted by the Act.

Under the current regime, exemption applications related to activities with illicit substances (i.e. a controlled substance that is obtained in a manner not authorized under the CDSA, e.g. a street drug) at an SCS are assessed on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the factors outlined in the Supreme Court of Canada decision regarding Insite. The Act will change this. The categories under which exemptions for activities with illicit substances will be considered will be narrowed to medical, law enforcement and prescribed purpose. Exemptions for scientific/research activities with illicit substances will not be permitted. Further, the Act creates a specific section for activities with illicit substances at an SCS under the medical category. This section will detail criteria that must be addressed by an applicant seeking an exemption for activities involving illicit substances at an SCS before the Minister of Health could consider such an application.

Once the Act is brought into force all exemption applications (new and outstanding) for activities with illicit substances at an SCS will be required to address the criteria set out in the Act.

The Department of Health will administer the Act within existing resource levels.

Consultation

Stakeholders, including representatives from police forces/ associations, public health associations as well as public health experts, were afforded the opportunity to comment on the legislation during consideration of the Bill by the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security in the House of Commons and the Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs in the Senate.

Departmental contact

Jacqueline Gonçalves
Director General
Controlled Drugs and Substances Directorate
Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch
Ottawa, Ontario
Telephone: 613-941-1977
Email: Jacqueline.Goncalves@hc-sc.gc.ca