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B.C. introduces new prescribed safer supply policy, a Canadian first

B.C. introduces new prescribed safer supply policy, a Canadian first

July 15, 2021 at 1:16 pm  BC, News, Politics

Patty Hajdu, federal Minister of Health –

“The overdose crisis has tragically worsened over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has devastated families, friends, loved ones and colleagues, and caused anguish across Canada. I applaud the Province’s innovative leadership to take concrete action to better protect people who use substances. The Government of Canada will continue to work with all willing partners around the country to reach people who use substances and save lives.”

Dr. Shannon McDonald, acting chief medical officer, First Nations Health Authority –

“B.C. First Nations continue to be over-represented in overdose deaths due to the toxic drug crisis. For this reason, we are highly supportive of this new and innovative prescribed safer supply policy, which aims to reduce drug-related harms and improve the overall health and wellness of people at risk for drug toxicity events and death. We are certainly happy to have access to every tool in the available toolkit to respond to this ongoing crisis.”

Dr. Matthew Chow, president, Doctors of BC

“B.C. doctors look forward to increased actions aimed to reduce the harm from illicit drugs that are killing so many British Columbians. Our policy statement on the drug overdose crisis from earlier this year encourages efforts to separate people from the toxic, illicit drug supply, and prevent unintentional toxic drug poisoning or overdose, including improved access to safer pharmaceutical alternatives, as well as improved access to a range of community-based, culturally appropriate, evidence-informed substance use prevention, harm reduction and treatment programs and services. This ongoing crisis has had lasting detrimental impacts on people who use drugs, their families and communities, first responders, health-care providers and the health system. These actions are urgently needed.”

Michael Sandler, executive director, Nurses and Nurse Practitioners of BC –

“Nurses and Nurse Practitioners of BC wholeheartedly supports the B.C. government’s ongoing commitment to safer supply and harm reduction initiatives and policies. Nurses are at the forefront of harm reduction for people who use substances, and we have seen first-hand the tragic toll of a toxic drug supply. Ensuring that we focus on supporting people who use substances with life-saving interventions, such as safer supply, harm reduction and decriminalization, will not only reduce deaths, but will also provide a much-needed level of care that minimizes stigma and discrimination, improves health and socioeconomic outcomes, and ultimately will move us towards a more equitable and compassionate society.”

Dr. Réka Gustafson, vice-president of public health and deputy provincial health officer, Provincial Health Services Authority –

“The overdose crisis remains a public health emergency. During the pandemic, it was, by far, the most common cause of death in British Columbians aged 19 to 39. Response to a public health emergency requires us to use all available tools and to develop new ones to save lives. Safer supply is one of the suite of interventions that we have both the opportunity and the responsibility to implement as part of a co-ordinated and system-wide effort to end the overdose emergency in British Columbia.”

Dr. Karin Goodison, medical health officer, Interior Health –

“Poisoning is preventable. B.C.’s illicit drug toxicity deaths continue to climb in the context of dual public health emergencies, with a significant increase in deaths during the pandemic. We must take urgent steps to separate people who use drugs from the poisoned drug supply. By using the tools we currently have at hand, this policy supports a harm reduction approach to preventing further injuries and deaths caused by the illicit drug supply by supporting prescribing of a safer supply.”

Lisa Helps, mayor, Victoria –

“We want to thank the provincial government for their innovative approach and leadership. Too many people have lost their lives and there are too many families grieving. This program will save lives and turn a corner on this longstanding health crisis.”

Participant, Victoria Safer Initiative –

“I feel that I benefit from a safer, alternative supply. It makes me feel well and helps keep me safe and with no fear of dying with street drugs. Staff are excellent. There’s no shame in this – it leaves you with dignity.”

Heather Hobbs, project director, Victoria Safer Initiative, AVI Health and Community Services –

“Our experience implementing the Victoria Safer Initiative demonstrates that providing pharmaceutical alternatives to the toxic, deadly drug supply in B.C. saves lives. Safer participants consistently report that they are experiencing health and social benefits. Key to Safer’s success thus far is a flexible, harm reduction service model that draws on the input and engagement of people with lived/living experience and provides safer drugs that best match the stated needs and preferences of people who use them. Providing pharmaceutical alternatives is part of increasing equitable access to health and well-being and moves us all closer to the social justice goals of drug user liberation.”

Ciara Knapp, project co-ordinator, Sunshine Coast Community Action Team –

“The Sunshine Coast Community Action Team is excited to hear about the release of the prescribed safer supply guidance. Having access to safer prescribed supply provides community members who are using substances with the choice to access safe, pharmacological alternatives to the toxic street opioid supply, and is another tool to help reduce preventable deaths related to the overdose crisis.”

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