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Supervised Consumption Services Approved for Victoria

August 3, 2017
Victoria – Island Health has been given approval by Health Canada to open a supervised consumption service (SCS) in Victoria. The service will help reverse overdoses and connect people with treatment services in Victoria, which has B.C.’s third highest rate of drug overdose deaths.

“Providing supervised consumption services is a critical component of ensuring people can use drugs in a safe space and find supports there too, when they are ready to begin recovery,” said BC’s Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy. “There is no one single solution to the overdose crisis. We must deliver a broad strategy so that when people need services, they ask once and get the help they need fast.”

Supervised consumption services will be available at 941 Pandora Avenue which will now be named the Pandora Community Health and Wellness Centre. The SCS will offer integrated health services including mental health counselling, a nursing clinic and linkages to addiction treatment programs. Programming at the centre will complement health and social services offered at our neighbour, Our Place. A temporary overdose prevention site at Our Place, opened since December 20, 2016, will close when the SCS is operational.

“This is welcome news for Victoria. This service will save lives and build a more supportive community for the most vulnerable among us,” said Victoria Councillor Marianne Alto. “The City identified these services as a top priority, and we are grateful to our partners in health care and the community for making it happen.”

Extensive renovations will be required to the site. This includes the creation of additional and separate access and exit doors, an area that will accommodate up to 10 consumptions booths, waiting/reception and post-use area, as well as a mental health counselling room, a nurse clinic room and a medication room. The expected completion of the renovations and the start of supervised consumption services is spring/summer 2018.

“The introduction of supervised consumption services is an important step in saving lives and harm reduction,” said Dr. Richard Stanwick, Island Health Chief Medical Health Officer. “The opioid crisis has taken a tremendous toll on the Island and as health care providers, we must offer greater supports and resources to people in the communities we serve.”

Island Health has also made a joint application with PHS Community Services Society (PHS) to operate supervised consumption services at 844 Johnson. That application is under review by Health Canada.  In the meantime, there are eight overdose prevention sites on the Island from Victoria to Campbell River. Between January and May 2017 there have been more than 26,600 visits and 310 overdoses. There have been zero deaths at any overdose prevention site in B.C., these sites are saving lives.

Opioid crisis by the numbers:
• 967 people died of drug overdoses in B.C. in 2016 (156 on the Island)
• 640 people died of drug overdoses in B.C. between January and May 2017 (96 on the Island)
• 82% of the people who died from drug overdoses were men
• 90% of drug overdoses occurred indoors
• There were no deaths at supervised consumption or overdose prevention sites

Media inquiries:
Jennifer Parisi
Public Health Communications Advisor
250.519.5300 Ext. 12650
jennifer.parisi@viha.ca