Two months of inaction – Call for immediate funding commitment

Two months have passed since the Government of British Columbia declared a public health emergency in response to the unprecedented high rate of fatal and non-fatal overdoses this year. BC has yet to implement the services needed to help prevent the 800 overdose deaths predicted to occur in 2016.

On June 9th, the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) will host 80 individuals representing regional and provincial bodies, including the Health Officer of BC, the BC Coroners Service, and local service providers, to discuss the response to this overdose crisis. Yes2SCS says it is critical that the Province move beyond surveillance and monitoring, and take immediate steps to ensure effective health care services are provided across BC for people who use drugs. Service providers and drug user groups affiliated with Yes2SCS will be attending the meeting and pushing for supervised consumption services.

“Tomorrow’s meeting must include an announcement of funding for the implementation of supervised consumption services in communities across BC,” says Alex Holtom of Yes2SCS. “Countless studies have shown that supervised injection services save lives by preventing fatal overdoses and by connecting service users to other critical health care and social services. The efficacy of these services is clear, documented and unassailable.”

“The current focus on naloxone and education are important parts of a response, but are insufficient to address this emergency on their own,” says Shane Calder of Yes2SCS. “People know that fentanyl is out there, they know the risks, and they are accessing naloxone already and it simply hasn’t been enough. It is also critical that the Provincial government strongly urge the Federal government to repeal the Respect for Communities act (formerly Bill C2) as a tremendous impediment to the swift implementation of supervised injection services.”

Read more (Georgia Straight – print)

Banner and crosses June 1

600 crosses / call for SCS

June 1st is Victoria’s Harm Reduction Awareness day. With double the rate of overdoses from this time last year, this year awareness about how harm reduction saves lives is particularly urgent.

This year we’re erecting 600 crosses on Harris Green between Cook and Vancouver Street, putting physical form to the 600-800 people the Province of BC predicts could die from overdose in 2016, a stark increase from the 480 fatal overdoses reported in 2015. (for more info see our Press Release)

Today’s action coincides with the release of a letter signed by national and provincial organizations that calls on the provincial government and regional health authorities to respond to the overdose crisis by taking immediate action to establish supervised consumption services (SCS) in communities across BC.

In April the BC Government declared a Public Health Emergency on the dramatic surge in overdoses across the province. Yet we’re still not seeing an adequate overdose prevention response from our BC Health Authorities. Further, the time, detail, and expense involved in the SIS application process makes it unnecessarily difficult for most communities to implement SIS in a timely manner.

To address this, yes2scs is working with organizations across BC to call for an appropriate response to this Public Health Emergency:

1/  significant investment on the part of the provincial and federal governments, in the form of sustained core funding and capital infrastructure grants to expand harm reduction services across BC, including SIS

2/ that the Province of British Columbia collaborate with regional health authorities to apply for section 56.1 exemptions under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act for all community-based healthcare services contracted to provide harm reduction services by either the Province of British Columbia, or by a local health authority, to facilitate the immediate creation of supervised injection services throughout the province of British Columbia

3/ the federal government repeal the Respect for Communities Act, which creates unnecessary and unwarranted barriers for opening SIS

The Province is showing leadership by calling the public health crisis – this needs to include immediate provincial funding to the agencies directly responding to the overdose crisis. We also need the province to facilitate the provision of supervised consumption services to support existing harm reduction efforts throughout the province.

JAYY7722 JAYY7736