Health Minister says Kamloops a candidate for a safe injection site

By James Peters / Chad Klassen
May 27, 2016 - 12:02pm Updated: May 30, 2016 - 5:46pm

KAMLOOPS — Health Minister Terry Lake says either Kamloops or Kelowna could become home to BC's next safe injection site.

Lake says Interior Health is in the initial stages of exploring the idea, as are a number of other health authorities.

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He adds Insite in Vancouver hasn't seen a single overdose death in 12 years, so his ministry knows safe injection is a model that saves lives.

"When there are overdoses, they can react right away. We know that with the kind of material that is out on the street at the moment, particularly fentanyl, that the risk of overdose death is greater than ever. So having a safe injection site would probably reduce the number of overdose deaths for sure," said Lake.

"Interior Health is looking, possibly Kamloops, possibly Kelowna. They will have to look at that data, work with organizations like ASK Wellness, with their street nurses to see if in fact it makes sense to do it here," said Lake, adding, "I'll leave that work up to them, but we, from a ministry standpoint, recognize the value of safe injection sites." 

Lake notes opiate overdose deaths are continuing at a staggering pace in the province, even after his ministry and BC Emergency Health Services declared a state of emergency.

He says through the first four months of the year, overdose deaths are up markedly over last year, at 2015 already set records.

"We haven't got the numbers for May yet. I am hopeful we will start to see those numbers drop off as we have initiated all of these initiatives as part of the public health emergency."

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