Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott has asked Health Canada to make it easier for communities to approve and set up safe injection sites because of what she calls a public health emergency.
The minister made the comments in response to a question from Vancouver Kingsway MP Don Davies. He said Canada was on track for 2,000 overdose-related deaths this year and wanted to know what Philpott was doing to make safe-injection sites easier to set up.
The Liberal government has long supported the expansion of safe injection sites as a means of harm reduction for addicts, but have been slowed in approving new sites by legislation brought in under the previous Conservative government.
The Respect for Communities Act, which came in in 2015, requires 26 criteria to be met before the federal government can begin considering a new safe consumption site.
Critics of the law say that meeting all 26 criteria is onerous and takes so long that addicts literally die in back alleys because there is no supervised location where they can be treated when they overdose.
Philpott has told officials to take into consideration the public health emergency that is occurring in many communities and directed staff to review all 26 criteria and remove or amend anything that poses an unnecessary barrier to getting a site up and running.