Health Canada approves supervised injection site for Victoria

Pauline Gross
August 7, 2017

Now after more than 11 years, that dream is becoming a reality.

Health Canada has announced it's granting an exemption to the Vancouver Island Health Authority to operate Victoria's first supervised consumption site. This fixed site is the first in Victoria and, once operational, will provide supervised injection services along with additional harm reduction and counselling services to its clients in Victoria.

"This is going to save lives ..."

In that facility, one of eight on Vancouver Island, staff are permitted only to use naloxone to revive overdoses. "When these events take place in these settings, at least we keep the people alive and you have to be alive to receive treatment".

The health authority said it supported such services but said it could only begin exploring it after the current Liberal government replaced the federal Conservatives, who were opposed to supervised drug-use sites and fought an unsuccessful court battle to shut down what at the time was the the only federally approved site, located in Vancouver.

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Renovations are expected to cost $1.1 million, with an estimated $700,000 in operating costs annually.

That's in contrast to the city's current provincially-sanctioned overdose prevention site, which opened in December of a year ago. 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. Since then, there have been more than 16,000 injections and more than 200 clients who use the facility on a regular basis. "There is no doubt at all that having these services available changes people's lives, saves people's lives", said Marianne Alto, a Victoria city councillor.

Our government fully supports harm reduction measures as part of a comprehensive approach in addressing the overdose crisis facing many Canadians and their communities across the country.

Island Health now has another joint application with the Portland Hotel Society to open a second supervised consumption street at 844 Johnston Victoria, which remains before Health Canada.

The announcement of the Pandora site comes in the wake of the latest overdose numbers that were released by the province last week. Island Health said between January and May of this year, there have been more than 26,600 visits and 310 overdoses.

Other reports by GizPress

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