Pubdate: Mon, 29 May 2017
Source: Metro (Vancouver, CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Metro Canada
Author: Jen St. Denis
Page: 5


Vancouver will get one new site, while Surrey gets two

Health Canada is allowing three additional supervised drug consumption
sites to operate in the Lower Mainland - two in Surrey and one in Vancouver.

The move fulfils a promise from Jane Philpott, Canada's federal health
minister, to support and expedite applications to open more of the
sites. At supervised drug consumption sites, nurses are present as
people take illicit drugs and can assist in case of an overdose as
well as connect people to other health or social services. Insite at
139 E. Hastings St., operated by Vancouver Coastal Health and the
Portland Hotel Society, opened in 2003, while a supervised consumption
site at Vancouver's Dr. Peter Centre has operated since 2002.

Stephen Harper's Conservative government attempted to shut InSite
down, but a Supreme Court decision in 2011 ordered the government to
exempt the clinic from prosecution for drug crimes. However, a strict
Conservative-era federal law continued to make opening new sites
extremely difficult.

On May 18, the federal government, now led by the Liberals, passed a
bill that streamlines the process for opening a new supervised drug
consumption site.

"International and Canadian evidence shows that, when properly
established and maintained, supervised consumption sites save lives
without increasing drug use or crime in the surrounding area," Health
Canada said in a statement.

"The evidence also shows that they decrease infections and the
transmission of communicable disease, and can also decrease the use of
emergency departments, as well as hospital admissions related to
injection drug use."

A deadly overdose crisis, fuelled by the powerful synthetic opioid
fentanyl, is currently killing four people every day in British
Columbia. The death toll has also started to climb in other Canadian
provinces. In response, in December 2016 several health authorities
across B.C. started to open what they called overdose prevention
sites, where volunteers or staff would be present to administer first
aid in case of an overdose.

B.C.'s provincial health officer, Dr. Perry Kendall, said at the time
he was confident the federal government would not object.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt