Vancouver drug users appeal for more safe injection sites amid overdose crisis

By The Canadian Press
June 8, 2016 - 1:13pm Updated: June 8, 2016 - 4:12pm

VANCOUVER — Members of two British Columbia drug users’ advocacy groups are calling on the government to open more safe injection sites in an accelerated effort to stop overdose deaths.

Dozens of members from the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users and the B.C. Association of People On Methadone planned a rally outside the Downtown Eastside safe-injection site to urge governments to provide more funding.

VANDU staff member Aiyanas Ormond says B.C.’s declaration of a public-health emergency in April over a spike in overdoses was a good first step, but doesn’t amount to concrete action.

He says Vancouver’s landmark injection facility doesn’t need to be replicated, and existing health-care clinics could instead be granted permission to provide the service.

B.C.’s chief medical health officer Dr. Perry Kendall declared the crisis so that health authorities could start collecting overdose information in real time and target those findings to the most vulnerable.

In May, the BC Coroners Service reported the powerful drug fentanyl was linked to nearly half of more than 250 overdose deaths tallied in the province in the first four months of this year.

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