The City of Vancouver has long led the way on harm reduction. For more
than a decade now, its two supervised-injection sites have made it the
only jurisdiction in North America with facilities where addicts can
inject drugs under the watchful care of nurses. But the suburbs that
surround Vancouver have taken more cautious and conservative
approaches to drugs, declining to host safe-consumption sites of their
That's finally beginning to change. Fraser Health, the authority
responsible for care in communities from Burnaby to Hope in the Fraser
Valley, has revealed that it plans to open multiple sites where users
can inject heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and other drugs.
[continues 445 words]
Re "Council OKs injection sites" (Shawn Jeffords, July 15):
If Councillor Gord Perks really believes his statement when referring
to drug addicts that "you are the best of us", then he obviously has
more problems than the addicts themselves. When did drug addicts
become "the best of us"? They certainly aren't the worst - that would
be reserved for murderers and rapists - but to refer to them as "the
best" is greatly insulting to just about everyone. The drug addicts
did not agitate for a treatment centre or new treatment facilities of
any kind. They agitated for an injection site where they could go and
inject illegal drugs and not have to deal with people stepping over
them in an alley. The only reason that Insite can brag about saving
addicts from dying of overdoses is that there are medical personnel
at the injection sites to revive them should they overdose anyway.
The councillors have been fooled into thinking this is an acceptable
lifestyle that should be enabled. We will soon see how wrong they are.
Valerie Boyd Woodbridge
(Perks may have gone over the top but addiction is a disease, not a
sign of moral failure)
Health officials in British Columbia want to provide
pharmaceutical-grade opioids to some addicts at
supervised-consumption sites to tackle the province's soaring number
of overdose deaths.
While they caution that there are no concrete plans yet, such a
measure would make British Columbia the first province in Canada to
provide prescription narcotics to addicts outside a clinical trial,
while significantly expanding the role of facilities such as
Vancouver's Insite - the country's first public supervised injection
site, which has never offered drugs to users who inject there.
[continues 698 words]
Maple Ridge will work with Fraser Health
Fraser Health will identify priority sites for supervised drug
consumption as part of a broader strategy to contain a surge in
illicit drug overdoses, and Maple Ridge could be one.
Fraser Health has to talk with the City of Maple Ridge first.
"This is not something we've really ever talked about as a
community," said Mayor Nicole Read.
"It sounds like this is a decision that's been made by Fraser Health
in response to an emerging situation that's a real crisis. Obviously,
we're going to be working with Fraser Health however we can to deal
with the situation in our own community. But what that looks like,
I'm not sure yet."
[continues 949 words]
A steep and steady climb in the number of drug overdoses has put
increased pressure on health authorities in British Columbia to open
additional spaces for users to consume illicit substances under
Fatal drug overdoses have increased almost every year since 2009,
spiking with the emergence of illicit fentanyl in 2012. Advocates
have long called for more supervised-consumption sites - particularly
in the Fraser Valley and on Vancouver Island.
And now, after being accused of dragging their heels, Fraser Health
and Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) appear poised to submit
applications to Health Canada to open multiple consumption sites,
which would include injection facilities similar to Vancouver's
Insite, but could also allow people to inhale drugs such as
crack-cocaine. Vancouver is expected to pursue additional sites as
well. Just four months ago, the Fraser Health Authority said it had
no plans to open such a site. That same month, the Vancouver Island
Health Authority said it was working with stakeholders to look at
what an appropriate supervised-injection model would look like.
[continues 589 words]
Fraser Health will quickly identify priority sites for supervised
drug consumption as part of a broader strategy to contain a surge in
illicit drug overdoses.
Surrey is certain to be one of the proposed locations, but health
authority officials aren't yet saying if they will also propose sites
in other drug-troubled downtowns such as Langley City, Maple Ridge
"We're at early stages of identifying priority communities and having
initial conversations, dialogue and engagement with municipalities,"
said Dr. Victoria Lee, Fraser's chief medical health officer.
[continues 742 words]
At Least 43 Treated After Taking Crack Laced With Fentanyl on the Weekend
At least 43 overdoses in Surrey's Whalley area over the weekend are
being attributed to crack cocaine being laced with the deadly opioid fentanyl.
And as police and health care workers scramble to warn people of the
unprecedented risks they face in using crack cocaine, those on the
front lines think it is time to open up a safe inhalation site.
At the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users, spokesman Hugh Lampkin
said they used to have a "consumption room" for both intravenous and
crack cocaine users.
[continues 289 words]
Svante Myrick, the young mayor of Ithaca, N.Y., made international
headlines earlier this year when he backed a drug strategy that
included the opening of a supervised-injection site. While two such
facilities have existed in Vancouver for more than 13 years - and
Toronto recently approved three - supervised consumption remains a
controversial idea for many in North America. If approved, Ithaca's
could be the first of its kind in the United States.
The Globe and Mail spoke with Mr. Myrick, who recently visited
Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, where he toured the Insite
supervised-injection site; the Providence Crosstown Clinic, where
drug users who were part of a clinical trial receive prescription
heroin; and other social-service providers.
[continues 714 words]
Victoria has taken another step closer to establishing supervised
injection sites in the city.
The city has been invited by the federal minister of health to apply
for an exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act for a
supervised drug consumption site.
"I continually look for ways to keep Canadians healthy and reduce
risks and harms to them," Health Minister Jane Philpott says in a
letter to Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps.
"For this reason the government's approach to supervised consumption
sites will be guided by evidence, which in this case is clear - when
properly established and managed, supervised consumption sites can
save lives and improve health without increasing drug use and crime
in the surrounding area."
[continues 417 words]
Drug users report highest-ever rate of stimulant's use in study's
history, which suggests need for change to harm-reduction resources
Crystal methamphetamine use has climbed across British Columbia and is
now on par with heroin use, according to a new provincewide survey of
The finding suggests a need to reassess the availability of
harm-reduction resources and supplies across the province, according
to an epidemiologist behind the study.
The survey, prepared by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, was
distributed across 34 sites offering harm-reduction supplies and
completed by 812 drug users. It builds on annual surveys dating to
2012 and paints a picture of substance-use trends among harm-reduction
clients across B.C. Before these surveys, most knowledge of local drug
trends was based on data from two major cities: Vancouver and Victoria.
[continues 570 words]
Svante Myrick aims to bring Vancouver's pioneering programs back to
his small city in upstate New York
Svante Myrick has led a lifelong battle against the devastation caused
by illicit drugs.
He spent much of his childhood homeless while his father, a crack
cocaine user, walked in and out of his world through "a sort of
revolving door of jail and rehab," he said.
Now Myrick, 29, the youngest and the first black mayor of Ithaca,
N.Y., is fighting ideology and policy to make his city the first in
the U.S. to be home to a legal supervised-injection facility (SIF) for
[continues 720 words]
Recruits Know First-Hand About Life for Many in the Downtown Eastside
Those who attempt to provide care in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside
without first understanding the complex issues faced by the area's
population might as well be speaking an entirely different language.
That's according to Daniel Benson, one of 12 newly hired peer
advisers who are helping Vancouver Coastal Health roll out its Second
Generation Strategy (SGS) in the DTES.
"I've seen the pendulum swing both ways as far as the laws and
people's attitudes go and now it's going in a positive direction with
all the harm reduction, so that's refreshing to see," said Benson.
"We hope to - and I hope to - influence their decisions, to make
service deliveries down here more efficient, more compassionate and
do a better job all around.
[continues 495 words]
Vancouver experts weigh in
While the Board of Health will deal Monday with a call to open three
safe injection sites, Vancouver is in the midst of grappling with the
introduction of five such projects to combat the city's fentanyl
overdose crisis. The Vancouver Coastal Health department and the
Vancouver Police Union weigh in on the pros and cons.
Vancouver Police Union President
Did crime go up when Insite, Vancouver's first supervised injection
site, opened in 2003?
[continues 424 words]
As the Heroin Epidemic Grows Worse, People Are Finally Talking About It
"HERE THEY COME!"
The call goes up before the bicycles roll to a complete stop on a
recent Friday, sending a ripple of energy up and down the Central
Soon, grateful drug users are coming from every direction to speak
with four volunteers bearing stuffed backpacks and two bountiful bike trailers.
"Needles?" asks one woman. "Who brought needles?" She's handed a pack
of 50 new syringes, and offered her choice of an array of injection
materials-three sizes of cotton wads, two kinds of rubber tourniquets
(in case anyone's allergic to latex), tiny cups for cooking heroin,
kits for treating wounds caused by injections, and more.
[continues 1444 words]
Mayor says rising toll of overdose deaths in Toronto 'cannot be
acceptable to anyone in a caring city such as ours'
Toronto Mayor John Tory and police Chief Mark Saunders are not
opposing a proposal that would see three existing harm-reduction
clinics in the city set up supervised drug-injection sites, where
addicts can shoot up with a nurse looking on.
For months, Mr. Tory and Chief Saunders were non-committal about the
plans, which were announced in March by medical officer of health
David McKeown as a response to an alarming increase in overdose deaths
[continues 636 words]
Coun. Shad Qadri listened to the evidence from professionals and
colleagues. He still could not support the safe injection site -
partly because a cabbie would not take him closer than a couple of
blocks from the Insite injection site in Vancouver. I wonder how
representative that cabbie was.
The evidence is in and has been for some years: safe injection sites
save lives and reduce crime. The mayor, the police chief and the
councillor need to accept the evidence whether they like it or not.
They can make Ottawa a safer place for us all, addicts and non-addicts alike.
Harvey Davey, Ottawa
Board of Health Nearly Unanimous in Its Support for Supervised Facilities
Ottawa's board of health voted 10-1 Monday night to encourage
supervised-injection sites to open in the city. "Listen to, more than
anything, the people who live this," Capital Coun. David Chernushenko
told skeptics. He'd come into the health-board meeting not knowing
how much he didn't know about addiction, and treatment, and what it's
like to be a drug addict, he said.
The board heard from several, all begging the board to say it
supports the notion of opening supervised facilities where addicts
can inject drugs in the presence of nurses who can rescue them from overdoses.
[continues 809 words]
Committee Tries to Understand Supervised Clinic Concept As Crosstown
Clinic Physician Testifies to Its Efficacy
Members of a U.S. Senate committee looking to confront drug abuse
struggled with the concept of prescription heroin and raised concerns
about supervised-injection sites increasing crime as they heard
testimony on Wednesday from a B.C. doctor who helped lead one of the
most radical interventions in North America.
Scott MacDonald, physician lead at Providence Health Care's Crosstown
Clinic in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, testified before the U.S.
Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs at a
hearing in Washington titled "America's Insatiable Demand for Drugs:
Examining Alternative Approaches." He was one of four experts invited
to speak, and the only one from outside the United States.
[continues 568 words]
Health Unit Cites Looming Overdose Crisis
The capital is on the brink of an injection-drug crisis, the city's
top public-health doctor believes, and now is the time to open a safe
drug-injection site to try to head it off.
"In Ottawa, we are on the cusp of this larger trend, and we have
dodged it because we have been lucky so far," says Dr. Isra Levy, the
city's medical officer of health.
Monday night, after years of equivocating, his health unit released a
report saying the city should have at least one supervised facility
aimed at chronic users of injection drugs, where they can shoot up
with clean needles and have nurses on hand to help if they overdose.
[continues 1220 words]
Most Overdose Fatalities Tied to Fentanyl
New statistics show 308 B.C. residents died of illicit drug overdoses
in the first four months of 2016, up 75 per cent from the 176 deaths
in the same January to May period of 2015.
And the proportion of deaths tied to the synthetic drug fentanyl has
climbed further to 56 per cent of the 2016 deaths so far, according
to the B.C. Coroners Service.
By comparison, 31 per cent of illicit drug deaths in 2015 were linked
to fentanyl, used either on its own or knowingly or unknowingly in
combination with other drugs.
[continues 487 words]