VANCOUVER - Drug users are the solution to addressing overdose deaths
and providing services to people before they die alone, says a woman
who attended a meeting of health professionals in Vancouver trying to
develop new strategies to deal with a growing crisis in B.C.
Karen Ward, a board member of the Vancouver Area Network of Drug
Users, was among about 20 drug users who joined doctors, including the
provincial health officer, and the chief coroner at the all-day
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People do not just wake up one day and decide, "I am going to become a
There are social causes that bring about drug use which need to be
dealt with in order to reduce this problem. Drug use is more prevalent
among people who are disadvantaged. If we really want to stop this
epidemic of opioid overdose, there needs to be public policy in place
that will lessen the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged people
in order to stop drug use before it starts.
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Advocate fears lack of action due to power vacuum
A British Columbian mother whose son died from a fentanyl overdose is
watching the province's political uncertainty with some unease since
the May 9 razor-thin election.
With neither party commanding a majority of seats, government
ministries have been treading water - maintaining existing programs
but prevented from taking new policy directions.
Leslie McBain's 25-year-old son Jordan died of an opioid overdose in
February 2014. She wants whoever takes power to listen to those most
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Re: Supervised injection sites to be considered by region - June 7
Whenever I see or hear someone talking about supervised injection
sites, I can't help but hear "they're going to do it anyway ..." in
the back of my mind, because that's the rationale that people who are
for injection sites use. Only, these people usually add something like
"at least they'll be safe ..." to further justify their position that
this is helping addicts.
Clearly, we have a drug problem in this region - we have a national
problem - and I think that local authorities should be working with
agencies and groups to help those in our community with substance
abuse issues who are battling and struggling with addiction.
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Advocates support idea of supervised injection and consumption site in
St. John's, but unsure if drug users would use it
Advocates endorse supervised injection and consumption site in St.
John's The number of supervised injection and consumption facilities -
often referred to as safe-injection sites - in Canada will soon grow
Over the last month, a new facility opened in Surrey, B.C., two were
approved for Montreal, three more were approved for Toronto and
there's one on the way for Ottawa. There's also talk in the addiction
treatment and outreach community of Halifax having its own.
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Associate health minister Brandy Payne says she anticipates a
supervised consumption site for users of dangerous opioids will be
operating in Calgary within months.
Payne also said Thursday she expects there will ultimately be multiple
safe-consumption sites in the city to try to combat a rising death
toll from fentanyl and other opioids.
A Calgary application for a supervised consumption site is one of five
Alberta proposals - the rest are from Edmonton - that have been
submitted to Health Canada for an exemption under the federal
Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
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Opioid Dealers Embrace the Dark Web to Send Deadly Drugs by Mail
Anonymous online sales are surging, and people are dying. Despite
dozens of arrests, new merchants - many based in Asia - quickly pop
As the nation's opioid crisis worsens, the authorities are confronting
a resurgent, unruly player in the illicit trade of the deadly drugs,
one that threatens to be even more formidable than the cartels.
In a growing number of arrests and overdoses, law enforcement
officials say, the drugs are being bought online. Internet sales have
allowed powerful synthetic opioids such as fentanyl - the
fastest-growing cause of overdoses nationwide - to reach living rooms
in nearly every region of the country, as they arrive in small
packages in the mail.
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Police chief updates SACPA audience
"Catch and release" may work with fish conservation, but it's no
answer to the issues of drug addiction.
That's the word from Rob Davis, Chief of the Lethbridge Police
Service. He says repeatedly arresting people addicted to alcohol or
drugs and then releasing them - with no assistance offered - is very
expensive and it solves nothing.
"That's what we were doing," and so were police services across the
But Lethbridge has a myriad of social service agencies, he told a
Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs audience Thursday, and now
police officers make an effort to connect repeat customers with an
appropriate service agency as they're released.
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The federal government has approved three supervised-injection sites
for Toronto, further expanding a contentious harm reduction service in
its latest effort to counter a surging number of overdose deaths in
Illicit fentanyl and chemically similar drugs have caused fatal
overdoses to skyrocket. Opioid overdoses in Ontario increased 11 per
cent in the first half of 2016 compared with the same period the year
before, B.C. is on pace to have 1,400 deaths this year, and
fentanyl-related fatalities in Alberta in the first quarter of 2017
are 60 per cent higher than in the same period last year.
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There, the NDP finally said it. Alberta's fentanyl deaths are an
That's pretty obvious after 113 fatalities already in the first three
months of this year, after 363 in 2016. Overdoses now kill more people
in Alberta than traffic crashes and homicides combined.
In 2011, there were only six deaths from this scourge. Opioids have
become an undeniable public emergency.
It's also a suburban problem, not just a blight on the inner city.
Last year, 80 per cent of Calgary deaths were outside the city core.
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Cities say money needed to help with costs of enforcement
The mayors of Canada's biggest cities say they need a slice of the tax
windfall from legal marijuana to cover what they describe as
significant costs associated with enforcing a signature initiative
from the federal Liberals.
They raised their concerns with cabinet ministers this week, pressing
the case that some tax revenues from sale of the drug must filter down
to cover costs associated with land-use issues, business licensing
applications and enforcement once the purchase, sale and recreational
use of the drug is no longer illegal.
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The Liberals' promise to legalize marijuana has its champions and its
critics. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, Karen Vecchio, MP
for Elgin-Middlesex-London, wants to hear from you.
"I really want to hear from the public. I know there's lots of people
who are supportive of this, that think that it's been long time
coming. There are other people who have some great concerns with it.
And I want to make sure we hear from the right people," Vecchio said.
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"Yes, and how many deaths will it take till he knows, That too many
people have died?" - Bob Dylan, Blowin' in the Wind
Beginning in 1993, Justice Horace Krever led a Royal Commission of
Inquiry into the tainted-blood scandal in Canada. Inquiries were held
in other countries. One of the key questions was why people with
hemophilia were forced to continue to inject blood products that were
not screened for HIV, when newer and safer products were already available.
Criminal charges were laid in a number of settings. The Canadian Red
Cross pleaded guilty to the crime of distributing a contaminated drug
and made a large donation in exchange for six criminal charges being
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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.
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European experts say facilities like Vancouver's Crosstown can save
lives, money in battling opioid crisis
Addiction experts from five European countries say their experience
with prescription heroin programs have provided overwhelming evidence
to suggest Canada should expand its one clinic to tackle the deadly
Researchers from the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, the
United Kingdom and Canada held a symposium in Vancouver on Friday to
share lessons they've learned from multiple clinical trials and years
Wim van den Brink of the Netherlands told a news conference that some
European programs started as a way to deal with the public nuisance of
drug use but the medical health benefits improved people's quality of
life and saved money in the criminal justice system.
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Ottawa broadens overdose-prevention program, approving three more
locations for Vancouver region, one for Montreal
The federal government has approved four more supervised-injection
sites - three in the Vancouver region and one in Montreal - in its
latest effort to combat an escalating overdose crisis across the country.
The new round of approvals brings the number of federally sanctioned
sites to nine, significantly expanding what was once a radical
intervention limited to a single location in Vancouver's Downtown
Eastside. Such facilities, run by local health agencies, allow users
to consume illicit drugs in the presence of health workers who can
intervene in the event of an overdose.
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Mayors across Canada are calling for federal leadership on the
"national emergency" of overdoses by ensuring provinces provide timely
access to addiction treatment and by launching public education campaigns.
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, who heads a task force of the big
city mayors caucus on the opioid crisis, said he and his counterparts
in 12 other cities agree the situation is so dire that Ottawa must
take a leadership role if jurisdictions are not moving fast enough to
Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott said last month she's frustrated
with provinces and territories that have not provided her with
information on overdose deaths despite repeated requests.
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By any objective measure, the opiate crisis has affected British
Columbia far more severely than Alberta.
Both legal and illegal opiate use is more prevalent, and it was the
first province to see this unprecedented number of deaths due to
overdoses of fentanyl and other opiates.
B.C.'s response has been robust.
The declaration of a public health state of emergency led to resources
being mobilized across government departments and between all
stakeholders in a co-ordinated plan.
Their Provincial Health Officer reports monthly on the efforts to
combat the crisis, and the province has embraced early harm reduction
measures such as naloxone kits and supervised injection sites.
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A piece of legislation that makes it easier to open supervised
injection sites has become law, replacing Harper-era regulations that
effectively stalled the harm reduction service as overdose deaths climbed.
Under Bill C-37, which received royal assent on Thursday, agencies
wanting to open a supervised-injection site must meet five streamlined
conditions, down from 26 under the previous Respect for Communities
The Liberal government tabled the bill in December. It received final
approval on Wednesday, with minor amendments.
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A term we hear with increasing frequency is the claim that we need
"evidence-based policy" on this or that public issue. With the
possible new importance of the B.C. Green party - we'll know more
after the final election count on May 24 - you'll be hearing the
phrase a lot more as the Greens love the term like yogis love mantras.
"Evidence-based policy" started out as a medical term. Doctors wanted
evidence on the effectiveness of a treatment before using it. It is
the empirical method in action. Constant research examines how
patients fare after various procedures, surgeries or drug treatments
so doctors can know which treatments are best.
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