Pubdate: Thu, 17 Aug 2017
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network
Author: Meghan Potkins
Page: A3


Associate minister confident Ottawa will approve proposal for Beltway

A proposed supervised drug-consumption site at the Sheldon M. Chumir
Health Centre will receive a $1.2-million funding boost from the
province, as the number of fentanyl-related overdoses in Alberta
continues to mount.

Associate minister of health Brandy Payne said the funds will go
toward renovating the Beltline health centre that is expected to
eventually house Calgary's first supervised drug-consumption site.

No timeline for the facility's opening has been confirmed, but Payne
said the latest data on drug deaths across the province reaffirms the
need for harm-reduction services.

"We're certainly seeing higher rates (of overdose) in Calgary and
Edmonton, which is why it's important that we're moving forward with
services like supervised consumption services to be able to help
address some of those needs in those communities," Payne told
reporters gathered for a press conference in the lobby of the Sheldon

A new quarterly report suggests the pace of drug deaths across the
province has not relented.

Alberta saw 241 fentanyl-related deaths in the first six months of
2017, a 54 per cent increase compared with the same period last year.

Calgary continues to have the highest rate of fentanyl deaths at 13.1
per 100,000 people. The provincial average is 11.3, according to data
collected between April and June.

"We're approaching two deaths a day and the minister is saying she's
working hard with the federal government to get approval for these
safe consumption sites. Come on, it's been months," Liberal MLA David
Swann said Wednesday.

"What is the federal government doing and what is the provincial
government doing to facilitate this life-saving service?"

Alberta Health Services submitted an application to the federal
government last May seeking approval for a site in Calgary. The
application is under review by Health Canada.

The site would provide people with sterile equipment and encourage
safer drug-usepractises. Urgent-care staff would be nearby to respond
in the case of an overdose. Those looking to get into treatment would
also have ready access to the Chumir's opioid dependency program.

Payne told reporters Wednesday that Sheldon Chumir is an ideal
location for the service, and she fully expects the site will be approved.

"My hope would be tomorrow but, unfortunately, that's just not
logistically possible. We're doing everything that we can to expedite
the process," Payne said.

The province has also pledged $1.03 million to support needs
assessments and the development of federal applications for services
and programs in other parts of the province.

There are six applications before Health Canada for supervised 
consumption sites in Alberta: four in Edmonton, one in Lethbridge and 
one in Calgary.

A framework to evaluate the effect of the sites will be developed and
implemented at the urging of the province's Opioid Emergency Response

The province will track how supervised consumption sites affect
overdose numbers, as well as the amount of used needles and public
disturbances found in and around the site.

"We want to measure how the Alberta sites are doing as well, so that
we're able to share that information with the community," Payne said.

The latest data suggests higher-than-average rates of opioid overdoses
occur in the Calgary Centre, Calgary East and the Nose Hill areas, but
the majority of people who died of overdoses lived outside the urban

More than 80 per cent of those who overdosed on fentanyl were men. The
age group most at risk is between 30 and 34 years old, according to
provincial data released online.
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