Substance Use News: May

Bill C-37 Streamlines Application for Safe Injection Sites

As PAN’s Executive Director Jennifer Evin Jones wrote last week, Bill C-37 on Safe Injection Sites has passed into law. This will simplify the process of opening safe injection sites; which “now requires 5 conditions be met in applying to open a SIS, rather than the 26 required under the former Bill (C-2) governing the injection site application process.” PAN applauds the new legislation and the commitment by the federal government to move towards making decisions based on the evidence” (Read the post in full.) PAN and many others welcome the change as the expansion of harm reduction practices is definitely needed.

Fentanyl continues to have catastrophic impact on people using drugs, whether they are recreational or regular users. The BC Coroner’s Service released a summary report on April 19 that noted that from January through February of this year, there was a 90% increase in overdose deaths over the same period in 2016. Fentanyl was detected in 61% of the deaths in January – February 2017, on par with 2016 as whole (62%) yet up significantly from 2015 (29%).


Vancouver Police Department Releases Recommendations on Dealing with Opioid Crisis

In response to the ongoing crisis in the Lower Mainland, the Vancouver Police Department has released a report  with their recommendations. The Opioid Crisis: The Need for Treatment on Demand  details five key action items:

  1. Expand federal and provincial government support and accountability
  2. Expand and provide more funding for evidence-based addiction treatment, including opioid-assisted therapy programs
  3. Create a system for immediate evidence-based addiction treatment and concurrent mental health crisis intervention and support
  4. Address the lack of health care information to allow for the creation of data-driven strategies
  5. Increase public awareness to support prevention through education – in line with the prevention and treatment pillars of the Four Pillars Drug Strategy


Mayors’ Task Force Releases Recommendations on the Opioid Crisis

Mayors from 13 cities are urging the federal government to lead a nationwide action plan to treat Canada’s opioid crisis in their new report, Recommendations of the Mayors’ Task Force on the Opioid Crisis. Their recommendations cover harm reduction, treatment, prevention and enforcement, and include:

  1. The adoption of a comprehensive and coordinated pan-Canadian action plan which addresses the root causes of the opioid crisis. An intergovernmental action plan should align federal, provincial/territorial (P/T) and local strategies, and respond to the specific needs of Indigenous communities
  2. A coordinated national response to the opioid crisis involving all orders of government by engaging cities and local public health officials
  3. Working with cities to address the urgent need to develop more social and affordable housing


Beyond BC

The opioid crisis extends beyond BC as well. Say No for Nick, a CBC piece on youth, drug use and overdose deaths, profiles the family that lost their son Nicholas to an overdose death and now energizes We the Parents, a group dedicated to “educate, navigate and advocate” for youth with substance use and addiction issues.

In an opinion piece from the Toronto Star, Fentanyl crisis echoes mistakes of HIV/AIDS response, conservative strategist Jaime Watt wrote

If [the fentanyl crisis] is to be dealt with successfully, it must be seen as a matter of public health. In a hospital, a person who dulls their pain with fentanyl is a patient. On the street, that same person is a criminal. Fortunately, the current federal government has broken with its predecessor on this issue and we are starting to make progress in treating the fentanyl crisis as the public health crisis it is.

Although Watt identifies himself as a Conservative Strategist, I appreciate that his take on public health over ideology is essential.


Headlines in Brief 

Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott says pharmaceutical heroin a potential lifesaver in opioid epidemic.

In Opioid conflict-of-interest controversy reveals extent of big pharma’s ties to doctors, the complicated connection of doctors and pharmaceutical companies is examined.

In uplifting news, people who use drugs (PWUD) working in naloxone administration and other harm reduction approaches are excellent public health liaisons, creating relationships between PWUD and health care providers. Being trained to administer Naloxone and providing care also helped people feel less stigmatized.

On the downside, Injecting drug use increases worldwide, but no increases in needle and syringe programmes reports AIDS Map from last week’s Harm Reduction conference in Montreal.


Learn more:

The Opioid Crisis: The Need for Treatment on Demand  (Vancouver Police Department)

Recommendations of the Mayors’ Task Force on the Opioid Crisis

Opioid conflict-of-interest controversy reveals extent of big pharma’s ties to doctors

Naloxone is a heath intervention that can’t be effectively provided without the knowledge and social connections of people who inject drugs


tions? Feedback? Get in touch!
Janet Madsen, Capacity Building and Knowledge Translation Coordinator,
[email protected]