A couple uses heroin at a makeshift safe injection site erected in Whalley last month.

Health emergency in Surrey

Supervised safe injection sites save the lives of addicts.

In writing about supervised injection sites, reporter Kevin Diakiw was correct in saying that most observers agree that the data coming out of the evaluation of Vancouver’s Insite looks promising. (“Surrey at a crossroads,” The Leader, Aug. 3). However, some might consider that to be an understatement.

So who supports supervised injection sites after seeing the research conducted on Insite? The Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Association of Nurses, the Canadian Public Health Association, and of course the Supreme Court of Canada all support supervised injection sites.

The Supreme Court justices ruled 9-0 in favour of the continued operation of Insite, noting: “Insite has been proven to save lives with no discernible negative impact on the public safety and health objectives of Canada?”

Sadly, some commentators who appear to lack the expertise to interpret or conduct such research have misrepresented the findings in an effort to focus attention elsewhere.

Surrey is in the midst of a public health emergency stemming from substance use and overdose. It is clear that a comprehensive response, which includes recovery-focused addiction treatment, is needed.

However, that should not preclude us from immediately implementing interventions, such as supervised injection sites, which have been proven to save lives and promote engagement in addiction treatment.


Dr. Thomas Kerr

Professor of Medicine, University of B.C.

Director, Urban Health Research Initiative

BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS

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