Health Canada approves supervised injection site for Victoria

Henrietta Strickland
August 4, 2017

According to Health Canada, the site is the first in Victoria.

That means that along with providing 10 booths to consume drugs under trained medical supervision, it will also offer other health services including mental health counselling, a nursing clinic, and referral to addiction treatment. The temporary overdose prevention site that opened at Our Place in December 2016 will close once the Pandora Community Health and Wellness Centre starts its programming.

Local advocates have been calling for supervised drug-use facility for more than a year, with a local group called Yes2SCS - a coalition of health-care professionals, social workers, researchers and activists - promising to open one on its own if that didn't happen.

In that facility, one of eight on Vancouver Island, staff are permitted only to use naloxone to revive overdoses.

However, the building still requires extensive renovations at a cost of about $1.1 million and supervised injection services won't begin until the spring or summer of 2018.

An overdose prevention site is operating there under emergency orders as a measure to cope with the overdose crisis. Island Health said between January and May of this year, there have been more than 26,600 visits and 310 overdoses.

That's in contrast to the city's current provincially-sanctioned overdose prevention site, which opened in December of a year ago.

On Aug. 3, the Vancouver Island Health Authority (Island Health) was given the approval by the federal government to open a supervised consumption site at 941 Pandora Avenue. To date, Health Canada has approved a total of 16 supervised consumption sites in Canada. "They'll really be able to help get people to the help they need quickly", he said.

Grant McKenzie, communications director for Our Place, said he's glad to see the federally approved site and health centre move ahead but worries about the interim. "Now, if people come to the pod and it's full, instead of waiting they will go to a risky area to use ... we are responding to about 10 overdoses a week in the building and on the street (but no deaths)". He said as long as unsafe and unregulated drugs are on the streets the overdose crisis will continue - regardless of more supervised sites. On average, more than four people in B.C. die every day from an overdose.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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