A court hearing to challenge the federal government’s ban on needles for drug-using prisoners has been postponed to next week.
The hearing was pushed back to Dec. 17 due to a medical emergency in the applicants’ legal team.
Lawyers for both sides have also been asked to discuss whether the case should be put on hold until a new federal program that’s being rolled out in prisons can be evaluated.
The case, launched in 2012 by former prisoner Steven Simons, argues the current rules violate inmates’ rights and expose them to serious blood-borne diseases.
Several HIV/AIDS advocacy organizations are also involved in the challenge, saying the federal government must meet its legal obligation to protect the health of people in prison.
The government has argued in court filings that giving clean drug-injection needles to prisoners would make federal facilities more dangerous, since syringes could be used as weapons.
The Correctional Service last year launched a program that offers inmates in some facilities access to sterile equipment.
But court filings say the program is currently only available in a handful of Canada’s 43 federal prisons.
Applicants in the court challenge are also expected to argue that the program infringes on prisoners’ rights due to its lack of confidentiality.