Pubdate: Fri, 02 Jun 2006
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2006 Times Colonist
Author: Dr. Keith Martin, MP
Bookmark: (Harm Reduction)


During Prime Minister Stephen Harper's recent visit, the issue of 
Victoria having a safe-injection site was put on the table. Harper 
stated that he is "not committed" to such an endeavour and needs more research.

This is no surprise as he and his Conservative party have repeatedly 
voiced their opposition to safe-injection sites, preferring to take a 
moralistic approach to those who have substance-abuse problems, and 
to see these individuals as being a judicial problem rather than 
having a medical problem.

Victoria has approximately 1,500 IV drug abusers. Dr. Richard 
Stanwick, chief medical health officer for Vancouver Island, has a 
proposal to start a safe injection site/harm reduction strategy for 
the city. This is the right thing to do.

The program will save lives, reduce disease rate, reduce crime and 
integrate people with substance-abuse problems into society. It not 
only includes a safe site where these drugs are dispensed, but 
counsellors, detox, psychiatric assistance, skills training, job 
assistance and accommodation.

This plan, which is similar to successful programs in Europe, will 
help people get off drugs and become productive, reintegrated members 
of society.

It is not enough to just give a person struggling with these 
challenges a place away from the street to inject drugs; we must also 
give them the tools to help them get back on their feet. Harper must 
stop moralizing, look at the facts and do the right thing for these 
individuals who are frequently voiceless and fall through the cracks 
of society. Lives depend on it.

Dr. Keith Martin, MP,

Esquimalt - Juan de Fuca. 
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