Pubdate: Thu, 15 Jun 2017
Source: Metro (Calgary, CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 Metro Canada
Author: Elizabeth Cameron
Page: 3


Province hopes to open public health service by end of 2017

The Sheldon M. Chumir Health Centre in the Beltline could soon be
Calgary's first supervised consumption site, pending federal approval.

Associate Minister of Health Brandy Payne confirmed on Thursday the
province has applied to provide supervised consumption services in
Calgary at the downtown health facility and will soon begin
discussions with nearby residents.

"It's our hope that we'll be able to open the doors by the end of this
year," Payne said, speaking to a large crowd who gathered at the
health facility's lobby for the announcement.

The Chumir was chosen for the initial site because of the unique
services it already provides, such as Safeworks (a harm reduction and
needle distribution service provided through AHS), making it an ideal
location, Payne said.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Calgary Police Chief Roger Chaffin were on
hand to support the proposed site, to which individuals would bring
their own drugs to use in a space where medical professionals provide
sterile needles and other materials as well as intervening with
Naloxone, an overdose reversing agent, if necessary.

Both municipal heavyweights penned letters of support for Calgary's
application to the federal government.

"Last year we lost nearly four people a week to death by overdose.
That is far more than the people we lose to car collisions (or)
violent crime."

Fentanyl, a powerful opioid often prescribed for pain, was the
apparent culprit in 363 fatal overdoses in Alberta last year, compared
with 257 in 2015.

"This clinic is the first big step we have to start to introduce
ourselves to this community of vulnerable people and make sure we can
help them navigate through a very difficult process of recovery,"
Chaffin said.

People struggling with addiction often deal with other issues such as
poverty or trauma and often need support from the community to get
healthy again, he continued. "It's not a crime to be addicted. It's
not a crime to be vulnerable, to be mentally ill. What is a crime is
not reaching out as a community to say what do we do to help?'"

Vancouver has long been the only city in Canada to have a supervised
consumption site, although countries like Germany have had similar
set-ups in place for years.

This year, Health Canada has approved several sites in Montreal,
Surrey and Toronto and is currently reviewing several other
applications, including Calgary's.

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Next Steps

AHS is sending invitations to businesses and residents within a two
kilometre radius of Sheldon M. Chumir to participate in discussions
about the future site.

AHS plans on using social media to let Calgarians know how they can
provide feedback and will be putting up posters in the area.

Safeworks will be inviting potential clients and their families to
provide feedback as well.
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