Researchers, doctors, and public health advocates are up in arms about Bill C-2, aka the Respect for Communities Act, which they say is a direct attack on evidence-based harm reduction supplies and services.
According to Dr. Perry Kendall (the Provincial Health Officer of British Columbia, Dr. Patty Daly (the Chief Medical Health Officer for Vancouver Coastal Health), Dr. John Carsley (the Medical Health Officer for Vancouver Coastal health):
Should Bill C2 eventually become law then it may well cause the eventual closure of InSite, and will make it almost impossible for any new sites to open in other communities. The Conservative government has labelled this law the “Respect for Communities Act”. “Contempt for the Health of Communities” would be more accurate. Read more of their letter in The Global and Mail.
Vancouver’s drug problem is shifting into its largest and fast-growing nearby city. But while Vancouver set North American standards for progressive drug policies 13 years ago, naming its approach The Four Pillars, Surrey has not followed Vancouver’s lead.
The Four Pillars called on all levels of government to treat drug users less as criminals and more as people with medical issues. Measures to cut down on disease transmission and overdoses included distributing clean needles, providing a supervised safe drug injection clinic, and setting up a drug court that could funnel chronic drug users into support agencies. Such policies fall under the heading of harm reduction — measures that don’t demand drug users quit, while providing help to lessen the harm their addictions do to themselves and society.
The people who helped create The Four Pillars with its embrace of harm reduction say it is time for Surrey to catch up. Larry Campbell, the Vancouver mayor who oversaw the opening of the Insite injection clinic, says that Vancouver benefited from a number of important alliances that do not exist in Surrey.
“Where else do you have complete support of your police, your mayor, your health authority? Where else do you have that? Sure ain’t Surrey,” says Campbell.
“Let’s face it. The municipalities around Vancouver are doing zip. Vancouver carries the whole burden,” says John Blatherwick, the former chief medical health officer who created Vancouver’s first needle exchange.
“Eventually, Surrey is going to have to come into the 21st century. And they’ll probably go through the same political evolution that happened here. You need the leader of the quality as Philip Owen or Gordon Campbell who will step forward and say, ‘These are our communities, these are our people, and we have to do something for them.’”
However, with C-2, it becomes increasingly difficult for a place like Surrey to open a supervised injection site–because C-2 forces applicants to give 25 different pieces of information, including letters from the municipality. However, as we demonstrated in this documentary, the City of Surrey is not particularly friendly to drug users.
Read our article in The Tyee, for the full story of Ann and the Bubble Healing Centre.
A report by the BC Harm Reduction Strategies and Services Committee [PDF] took Centre for Disease Control stats and demonstrates how Fraser is significantly lagging in several measures.
An article in the journal Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention and Policy [PDF, open source] discusses how NIMBY-ism adversely impacts the availability of harm reduction supplies and services.
“Furthermore, participants residing in Fraser Health Authority were 41% less likely to support harm reduction in comparison to participants residing in Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, after adjusting for potential confounders.”