OTTAWA, May 12, 2017 /CNW/ - We are facing a serious public health crisis in Canada related to the growing number of overdoses and deaths associated with substance use. It is a shocking fact that thousands of Canadians died of drug overdoses in 2016, and the Government of Canada is committed to working with communities to address this complex issue.
Supervised consumption sites are an important harm reduction strategy and part of a comprehensive, compassionate, collaborative and evidence-based approach to drug policy. International and Canadian evidence shows that, when properly established and maintained, supervised consumption sites can save lives without increasing drug use or crime in the surrounding area.
On February 6, 2017, Health Canada approved a request by the Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux (CIUSSS) du Centre-Sud-de-l'Île-de-Montréal to operate three supervised consumption sites at fixed locations in Montreal.
Today, I am pleased to say that two of these sites have completed their final inspections and are now authorized to provide services to the public as soon as they are ready to open their doors. Health Canada officials stand ready to inspect the third fixed location as soon as it is ready for inspection and they are invited by CIUSSS to do so.
At these sites, people who use drugs are supervised by qualified staff who can provide immediate treatment in the case of an overdose. The facilities also provide sterile equipment, information about drugs, and basic health care and treatment referrals. In many cases, they also provide access to other health care services. The use of supervised consumption sites has been shown to save lives, and decrease infections as well as the transmission of communicable diseases. In addition, they can decrease use of emergency departments, as well as hospital admissions related to injection drug use.
Recognizing the evidence of the potential benefits of supervised consumption sites for communities that want and need them, the Government has also proposed new legislation (Bill C-37) which, if passed, would streamline the application process for these sites, without compromising the health and safety of clients, staff, or the surrounding community.
The Government of Canada will continue to work with health professionals, addiction experts, stakeholders, and provinces and territories, to address this crisis and the underlying causes of problematic substance use.
SOURCE Health Canada
For further information: Christina Lazarova, Office of Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, (613) 957-0200; Media Relations, Health Canada, (613) 957-2983