Needle collection, peer outreach focus of new Fraser harm reduction plan

Little sign of progress yet by health authority on development of supervised drug use sites

A new regional harm reduction strategy being developed by Fraser Health will focus on collection of used needles, provision of clean needles and smoking supplies, and outreach by recovered addicts to active drug users.

The health authority has struck an agreement with RainCity Housing and Support Society to help develop the expanded services, which exist in some but not all parts of the region.

Medical health officer Dr. Ingrid Tyler said it’s hoped peer outreach led by RainCity will help educate users on safe use and discard of needles, and better persuade them to reach out for addiction treatment and other health services when they are receptive.

Those former addicts would also be on the front line of providing users with clean supplies, containers to safely store discarded needles instead of dropping the in public, and helping alert users when a spike in dangerous overdoses happens.

“We want to ensure we create access across the whole region and there are no areas being unintentionally missed in terms of adequate harm reduction access,” she said, but added the rollout will consider community-specific factors.

Tyler said it’s too early to say which new communities could get additional harm reduction services, or what they might be.

The agreement doesn’t involve the most controversial side of harm reduction – supervised drug consumption sites that advocates say have been effective in preventing overdose deaths in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

Fraser Health earlier this summer committed to pursuing supervised use sites in multiple communities as part of its broader strategy to combat overdose deaths.

Asked if Fraser has yet reached agreement with any local municipalities on priority sites for supervised use, Tyler said those conversations are ongoing.

“It’s a service that we would like to be able to provide to those who need it across the region,” she said.

“We continue to work with our various partners in communities across Fraser to identify where these services would be the most appropriate and have the greatest impact.”

The federal Liberal government has so far given no signal it will relax the Safer Communities Act passed by the previous Conservative government that requires local support and clearance of a series of other hurdles in order to open any new safe injection site.

The drug overdose crisis in B.C. had claimed 488 lives this year as of the end of August, with 172 of those deaths in the Fraser region.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey bylaw’s tactics with Uber drivers deemed ‘entrapment’ and ‘completely wrong’

That’s what Councillors Brenda Locke and Linda Annis had to say Monday about city staff hailing Uber drivers then issuing them warnings

Whistleblower says Iranian-Americans questioned at Peace Arch crossing were targeted

Immigration lawyer says response from Customs Border Protection is a ‘total cover up’

Two men charged with first-degree murder in 2019 Surrey case

Two men charged with first-degree murder in killing of Andrew Baldwin, 30, in Surrey

‘Our Surrey Vision’ report to be made public Thursday

Community-engagement project launched by Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association last year

COLUMN: Ontario ride-hailing experience has implications for Surrey

Ride-hailing is now operating in B.C., in a lightning-quick response to the… Continue reading

VIDEO: Canada’s first presumptive case of coronavirus officially confirmed

Both patient and wife arrived on a China Southern Airlines flight after having been to Wuhan

First-place Canucks beat Blues 3-1 for ninth straight home win

Miller nets pair as Vancouver defeats Cup champs

Swapping grape varieties can help winemakers adapt to climate change: UBC study

Report says 56% of wine-grape-growing regions would be lost if global climate warms by 2 C

Alberta premier wants feds to approve Teck mine for benefit of First Nations

Kenney: ‘Surely [reconciliation] means saying yes to economic development for First Nations people’

Police search for man who went missing from Vernon hotel

Jay Rosenberger, 38, was last seen Friday

NDP suggests easing secondary housing rules for B.C. farmland

Lana Popham proposes guest homes not just for relatives

After four sex assaults linked, RCMP ask women not to walk alone in Coquitlam park

Four sexual assaults took place in Glen Park over two months

BC Place lights up in purple and yellow to honour Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash

Most Read