Pubdate: Fri, 19 Feb 2016
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2016 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Laura Kane
Page: 10
Bookmark: (Supervised Injection Sites)


B.C. health officials are considering offering supervised injection 
services in community health clinics, triggered by a new federal 
government and a spike in fentanyl overdoses.

Health authorities in Vancouver and Victoria have begun discussions 
about providing the services in clinics that already help people with 
addictions, for example, through clean-needle programs.

"The situation here is getting worse," said Dr. Mark Lysyshyn of 
Vancouver Coastal Health in an interview Thursday.

"We just see that offering supervised injection services is a more 
viable way to prevent some of the harm that's being caused right now."

The discussions mark a shift for harm-reduction proponents who were 
long stymied by the previous Conservative government. A rise in 
overdose deaths from the dangerous opioid fentanyl has added to the 
urgency, officials say.

Health authorities must apply for an exemption from federal drug laws 
in order to offer supervised injection services. Lysyshyn said 
Vancouver Coastal Health is considering applying for a single 
exemption to cover multiple sites.

Community health centres are separate from hospitals and offer a 
range of services. It's not yet known which ones would offer 
supervised injection, but the authority plans to target those that 
already offer harm reduction to drug users, he said.

Lysyshyn said the authority was encouraged by Health Canada's recent 
approval of the Dr. Peter Centre, an HIV-AIDS clinic that has offered 
supervised injection along with other services in Vancouver's West 
End since 2002.

"We're sort of in a new world now," he said. "There's been a lot of 
interest in Canada in harm reduction and a belief that it's been the 
right thing to do for people and that it saves lives, but we haven't 
been able to move on that in the past 10 years."
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