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Island Health Statement on Supervised Consumption Services

April 18, 2017

Island Health has long recognized the role of supervised consumption services as part of a range of health authority-wide evidence-based services that support prevention, harm reduction and treatment for individuals living with substance use challenges.

Over the longer term, Island Health will be engaging with many communities regarding supervised consumption services to determine the local communities’ interest. Work is now underway in Victoria and Nanaimo where local government, law enforcement and other stakeholders have expressed positive interest in supervised consumption services.

Background:

The establishment of supervised consumption services requires support from every level of government, the local community and other stakeholders where the service will be located.

The federal government that was in power between 2005 and 2015 clearly indicated that the exemption required under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to establish supervised consumption services would not be approved. Island Health is obligated to follow federal and provincial legislation, and given this contextual environment, prioritized other substance use programs and services to mitigate the harm associated with illicit drug use. The federal government that was elected in the fall of 2015 has indicated it is more accepting of supervised consumption services, although the legislative framework regarding supervised consumption services has not changed. This means that an application for exemption must still be made and approved, and the requirements set out in the Respect For Communities Act (Bill C-2) must still be met. Amendments to this Act are currently being considered by the present federal government in the An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make related amendments to other Acts (Bill C-37).

Current Work:   

After the 2015 federal election, Island Health became engaged in renewed discussions with governments at all levels and other stakeholders regarding supervised consumption services. Since early 2016, these discussions have focused on developing a distributed, integrated and multi-site service model for supervised consumption services in Victoria and a single-location service model for Nanaimo which will meet diverse community needs and those of a cross-section of people who use illicit drugs. Island Health recognizes the need for, and supports the establishment of, supervised consumption services in communities throughout its service area. Initial work to establish supervised consumption services is underway in Victoria and Nanaimo with the local governments and other stakeholders, to finalize applications for supervised consumption services. Island Health will engage with other interested communities to explore supervised consumption services. Island Health also continues to work with communities and stakeholders throughout its service area to reduce the risks and harms associated with illicit drug use.

The application for the first supervised consumption service location in Victoria was submitted on January 3, 2017. A public engagement process is taking place in Nanaimo as part of the application process, as required by the Health Canada exemption application process.

Last updated April 18, 2017