BC prisoners with opiate addiction gain therapy
published on February 16, 2016 by Tamsyn Burgmann in Global News
VANCOUVER – Prisoners struggling with opiate addictions in British Columbia jails have gained the same right to medical treatment as people outside the corrections system.
BC Corrections has implemented a new policy after four men who alleged they were denied opiate replacement therapy launched a charter challenge last month.
The men, who are addicted to opiates and range in age from their 20s to late 40s, are now under the care of doctors after a settlement that will also give other prisoners access to timely therapy.
“We know, regrettably, there are drugs in provincial and federal institutions,” their lawyer Adrienne Smith said Friday. “The fentanyl epidemic doesn’t stop at the prison gate.”
“This is a step in the right direction to keep people well, particularly when they’re at a good place being able to ask for medical support.”
The new policy comes as the province’s medical health officer Dr. Perry Kendall declared Thursday that BC is facing a public health emergency involving overdoses involving drugs such as the opioid-based pain killer fentanyl.
Dr. M-J Milloy, of the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, said that under Canadian law, health care must be equivalent for people inside and outside corrections facilities.
“Anything that moves us closer to that being the reality … is a good thing,” said the infectious-disease epidemiologist.View the full article