Trudeau appears open to safer-opioid proposal in Vancouver: mayor

The city has applied for $6 million from Health Canada to allow for the safe distribution of diamorphine

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seems open to a proposal from Vancouver to provide millions of dollars in funding for a safe supply of opioids to reduce overdose deaths, Mayor Kennedy Stewart said after meeting Trudeau on Parliament Hill Thursday.

The city’s health agency has applied for $6 million from Health Canada to allow for the safe distribution of diamorphine — a narcotic painkiller more commonly known as heroin.

Stewart said he found it encouraging that Trudeau didn’t shut the door to the idea when the two met.

“(Trudeau said) that he wants to work together … and open to having a conversation and then looking to us to lead, with health-care professionals, to try and figure out the best solutions to these problems,” he said after the meeting wrapped up. “So I’m very encouraged by that and grateful.”

ALSO READ: Canada first in the world to approve injectable hydromorphone to treat opioid addiction

On average, Stewart said, one person dies every day from an opioid overdose in Vancouver, where residents are calling for more urgent action.

The mayor said he was also pleased to learn Patty Hajdu is the new health minister, because she has experience with harm-reduction strategies. The Liberal MP spent years working on drug awareness in her hometown of Thunder Bay, Ont., and was executive director of an emergency shelter there.

Hajdu said later that while she has not yet seen Vancouver’s proposal, she looks forward to sitting down with Stewart Friday.

“I think it’s really important that we work with local and municipal leaders on solutions that really make sense for their communities,” she said.

“I’m looking for good solutions on the opiate crisis,” she said.

Vancouver was the first jurisdiction in Canada to open a legally sanctioned supervised injection site in the early 2000s and Stewart says he wants to keep exploring other innovative ways to solve its deadly opioid crisis.

“We’re in a minority-government situation and there’s windows to co-operate, come together, build things that Canadians want,” said Stewart, who was a New Democrat MP until he resigned to run for mayor last year.

“I want to make sure this window doesn’t close before we deliver on these key priorities.”

Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Just Posted

Surrey shares in ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ movie success

Jim Carrey among actors in scenes filmed at Joe Brown Park in 2018

Cloverdale resident wants speeders bumped from his road

Lord Tweedsmuir teacher Walter van Halst says safety is number one concern

Surrey mom to plead guilty in U.S. college admissions scheme

According to charging documents, Xiaoning Sui paid $400,000 to a sham charity to have her son admitted at UCLA

Surrey councillor claims Fleetwood residents caught ‘off guard’ by corporate report

Council approved area plan boundary for Fleetwood that left many “scrambling” to understand, Pettigrew says

Elderly White Rock assault victim upgraded to stable condition

Incident occurred Feb. 19 in the city’s Five Corners district

VIDEO: B.C. senior recalls ‘crazy’ wartime decision to grab bear cub from den

Henry Martens – now 96 – says he was lucky to be alive after youthful decision to enter a bear’s den

Chilliwack physiotherapist charged with sexual assault

Mounties urging other potential victims to make contact

Trudeau: Time for blockades to end and Indigenous leaders to work with government

Prime minister says situation in Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute is ‘unacceptable and untenable’

RCMP clarifies stance on removing officers from Wet’suwet’en territory in northern B.C.

Police say will remove officers only if hereditary chiefs keep road open to pipeline workers

Youth-led report calls on B.C. government to create plan to end youth homelessness

There are no dedicated programs for youth homelessness at federal, provincial level, report says

Abbotsford mosque gets online hate for exhibit on Jesus

Event meant to bring community together gets attacked teaching religous differences

Petition slams Victoria councillor who chastised police after Wetsuweten protest

Ben Isitt calls effort to get him suspended is not a ‘reliable barometer of public opinion’

B.C., Ottawa sign sweeping 30-year deal for northern caribou habitat

West Moberly, Saulteau co-manage new protection on two million acres

PHOTOS: 2020 BC Winter Games kick off in Fort St. John

More than 1,000 of B.C.’s best athletes will be competing over the next three days

Most Read