Surrey – Fraser Health is announcing two proposed sites for supervised consumption services in Surrey. The health authority is also announcing plans to increase access to addictions treatment medication services in the hardest hit communities in the region.
“Surrey, along with the rest of the province, has experienced a tragic spike in overdose fatalities, and supervised consumption services could help reduce the number of people dying,” said Health Minister Terry Lake. “We have strong evidence from Insite that supervised consumption services reduce the transmission of disease, reduce fatal overdoses and help connect people to health care services. The Province continues to push the federal government to reform the unnecessarily onerous application process, which creates significant barriers and delays in establishing these needed health services.”
A key feature of both sites is their integration into existing health services. The 94A Street location at Quibble Creek Sobering and Assessment Centre will provide access to its clients as well as those at Surrey Memorial Hospital. The site on 135A Street, in partnership with Lookout Emergency Aid Society, will be located in a temporary building behind the Gateway Shelter, adjacent to Health Solutions (the SHOP Clinic) which provides primary care, outreach and HIV care. In addition, both locations will provide medications to treat opioid addiction (suboxone and methadone), to help people on the path to recovery.
“We know that embedding supervised consumption with other health care services will help us better engage with at-risk populations and provide a more comprehensive approach to managing their health care needs,” said Fraser Health chief medical health officer Dr. Victoria Lee. “By implementing supervised consumption services and increasing access to addictions treatment, we are going to be able to more meaningfully engage in harm reduction and treatment activities.”
Fraser Health will also expand access to these opioid substitution treatments in the coming months in Maple Ridge at Alouette Addictions Services and at Abbotsford Community Services. In addition to Surrey, Abbotsford and Maple Ridge have seen the highest spikes in the number of overdoses occurring.
The proposed sites and service model in Surrey are the result of a detailed data review examining where the need is greatest as well as extensive initial consultation with the City of Surrey, Surrey RCMP, the Surrey Board of Trade, Surrey School District and other community stakeholders including potential users of the services. The selection of the two proposed sites will allow for more focused consultation in the areas around the sites. In the coming weeks, Fraser Health will facilitate one-on-one meetings with key stakeholder groups in the proposed neighbourhoods and will host open information sessions for residents in these areas.
The information sessions will give the public who live or work in the immediate vicinity of the proposed sites an opportunity to learn more about how supervised consumption services can positively impact neighbourhoods and people who use drugs. Those unable to attend can learn more about supervised consumption services and provide feedback through an online form.
Since the public health emergency was declared by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall last April, Fraser Health has implemented an aggressive strategy to combat drug overdoses and deaths. In addition to identifying priority sites for supervised consumption services and improving access to opioid substitution treatment, the strategy also includes increasing accessibility to take-home naloxone, public awareness campaigns, and engaging with municipal and community partners on overdose response and prevention.
These initiatives support the work of the Joint Task Force on Overdose Response appointed by Premier Christy Clark in July 2016. The task force, headed by Dr. Kendall and Director of Police Services Clayton Pecknold, is providing expert leadership and advice to the Province on actions to prevent and respond to overdoses in B.C. As part of the response, law enforcement is working at all levels of government to interdict the supply of toxic drugs, and health officials are working to address the immediate and longer-term health needs. To that end, B.C. is expanding access to life-saving naloxone across the province, supervised consumption services in each regional health authority, and opioid addiction treatment medications and services.
Under the task force, the Province launched a broad provincial campaign to alert people of how to prevent, identify and respond to overdoses, and is investing in research, education and training through the new B.C. Centre on Substance Use, to ensure addiction treatment is effective and evidence-based. Ongoing work to support and treat British Columbians with substance use issues is also a key part of the Province’s response. Government committed to meet the goal of opening 500 new substance use treatment beds in 2017. In the past two years, more than 220 new beds have been opened as part of this commitment to ensure better access to appropriate substance use supports.