Surrey – Health Canada has approved Fraser Health to open two supervised consumption sites in Surrey that will help save lives in areas that are among the hardest hit by the public health emergency.
“Today’s news is the result of many months of planning and consultation at all levels, and we are pleased that Health Canada has approved these two supervised consumption sites in Surrey,” said Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall. “Supervised consumption services save lives, and provide opportunities to engage with people, reverse overdoses when they occur, connect people to treatment for their addiction when they are ready, and ultimately reduce the number of people dying.”
The two sites are scheduled to open in June following the completion of renovations and staff training. Services at the site will include the supervision of injection drugs and Fraser Health is also seeking Health Canada approval for intra-nasal and oral substances, which will be a first in Canada. Fraser Health will integrate both sites into existing health services: one at Quibble Creek Sobering and Assessment Centre, and another on 135A Street operated in partnership with Lookout Emergency Aid Society, adjacent to Health Solutions (the SHOP Clinic) and Front Room Drop-in.
“We carefully selected both sites based on data analysis that indicated these areas have the highest rate of overdose deaths in the region,” said Fraser Health Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Victoria Lee. “Supervised consumption services are one component of our overdose strategy that will support people in areas that have a disproportionate number of overdoses, and today’s exemption from Health Canada will allow us to take a significant step forward in engaging with this population.”
Quibble Creek will provide supervised consumption services to clients of the centre between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., seven days a week. The location on 135A Street and will be operated in partnership with Lookout Emergency Aid Society. Supervised consumption services will be provided daily from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m., based on data analysis which showed the greatest opportunity for impact.
Over the past several months, Fraser Health engaged in an extensive consultation process which has included one-on-one meetings with key stakeholders, two public information sessions, a web-based survey, and interviews with people who use drugs. The site on 135A will be called SafePoint – the result of consultation with the people who are most likely to access services there.
“We are pleased to move forward with supervised consumption services at SafePoint, and know that these services will go a long way in making a difference to the lives of those on 135A Street,” said Shayne Williams, Executive Director for Lookout Emergency Aid Society. “SafePoint staff will not only reverse overdoses, but will help make meaningful connections with people seeking to access health care and other supports.”
In addition to offering supervised consumption services, both locations will provide health care workers with opportunities to connect people who use substances with health care and community services. Both sites will continue to provide connections to treatment, including medications to treat opioid addiction (suboxone and methadone). Since services were enhanced at these locations in January, 237 people have started on their road to recovery (as of May 15).
“Supervised consumption services in Surrey will help save the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our community, while supporting those who are ready to address their addiction with connections to treatment services on their journey to recovery,” said Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner.
Fraser Health’s new supervised consumption services support the work of the Joint Task Force on Overdose Response established in 2016. As part of the wide range of actions taken, partners across the health system continue to expand access to life-saving naloxone and opioid addiction medications and treatments such as Suboxone, open more overdose prevention sites, work with Health Canada on approvals to open additional supervised consumption sites and improve the system of substance use services.