Discredited : stigmatisation as an obstacle to the human right to health of federally incarcerated Canadians living with opioid use disorder

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Marcotte, Kerry Ann
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The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has brought social inequalities which had previously been overlooked to light, such as discrepancies in access to healthcare in democratic countries with a universal and public healthcare systems. The right to a reasonable standard of health is a fundamental human right. However, states have failed to respect their obligations to protect this right as evidenced by the unprecedented gaps between those who could and could not afford healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic.1 This thesis seeks to examine the relationship between human rights and stigma. More specifically, I plan to investigate how the sociological process of stigmatisation through labelling and exclusion can impact the human right to health of inmates in Canadian federal prisons living with opioid use disorder. While considered to be a “crisis” by the international community, including the Canadian government, the opioid crisis and its health-related ramifications have yet to truly convince policymakers and Canada’s Correctional Services Agency to protect the human right to health of opioid users within federal prisons. This thesis found that using stigmatisation as a lens to comprehend the healthcare available to persons living with opioid use disorder revealed discrimination against prisoners due to their status as substance users ; discrimination which keeps harm reduction interventions at arms’ reach.
Second semester University: New University of Lisbon
right to health, prison, drug, discrimination, Canada