Prisoners reach settlement on access to drug treatment in provincial jails

A group of prisoners who filed a Charter challenge last month in BC Supreme Court reached an agreement with BC Corrections today that will save them the effort and the enormous expense of having their case go to court.

Their challenge was against a provincial prison policy that restricted their access to methadone and Suboxone medication for opiate addiction treatment. The five prisoners sought an injunction order suspending the policy; and compelling BC Corrections to bring them before a doctor authorized by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC to prescribe methadone and suboxone.

The challenge was funded by the West Coast Prison Justice Society.

“At this time, all of our clients have been treated with the medication they were asking for, and BC Corrections has implemented a new policy,” said Adrienne Smith, a Vancouver lawyer acting for the four men in provincial custody who brought the case. “The decision is timely, given the Provincial Health Officer’s declaration of a public health emergency yesterday” Said Smith. “We know the fentanyl epidemic does not stop at the prison gate. We congratulate BC Corrections for making changes to its policies to address this issue before anyone else in prison in BC dies a preventable death”.

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