Health Canada has given the green light to new supervised injection sights in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
“Staff at the Ministry of Health and health authorities have been working very hard for several months to get approval from Health Canada for additional supervised consumption sites to combat the overdose crisis,” said provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall. “We are very pleased today to have received the first three approvals for new sites in the Lower Mainland.
With more than three million injections at Insite “and not one overdose death, we know these new sites will be a critical tool in our effort to save lives,” Kendall added.
The service will be located in a drop-in centre for people living with mental health and substance use challenges called the Powell Street Getaway, located at 528 Powell Street.
An overdose prevention site has been operating at this location since December 2016.
The six supervised injection booths will be open 12 hours a day from 9 am to 9 pm.It is expected to be fully operational in June once renovations are complete.
“We lost 216 mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, and friends last year to illicit drug overdoses in Vancouver,” says Dr. Patricia Daly, Chief Medical Health Officer, VCH. “This new supervised injection service will go a long way in helping to stem the fatalities that are plaguing our city.”
Vancouver Coastal Health’s supervised injection services “are invaluable for saving lives from drug overdoses and connecting people to critically needed treatment services, particularly as Vancouver grapples with the fentanyl crisis,” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson.
The new sites “will have significant positive impact for its users, preventing drug overdose deaths by getting people indoors and connecting them to life-saving harm reduction and vital services like detox, addictions counselling and treatment,” he added.
An exemption under Section 56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act is required from the Government of Canada to legally operate supervised injection services.
VCH has a second exemption application for a supervised injection service at the Heatley Integrated Health Centre (330 Heatley Street, Vancouver) that is still pending approval from Health Canada.