May 17, 2016 - 7:00 PM
FORMAL APPLICATION TO FEDERAL GOVERNMENT A COUPLE OF MONTHS AWAY
CENTRAL OKANAGAN - Formal application for a safe consumption service for Kelowna is six to 12 weeks away but the charm offensive necessary to sell the concept to the community began yesterday morning.
That’s when Kelowna city councillors heard from medical health officers Dr. Silvina Mema and Dr. Trevor Corneil about the spectrum of harm reduction services the Interior Health Authority offers and where the gaps are.
Safe injection, or safe consumption services as the doctors termed it, is the one piece not already available in the Interior’s largest city and one they are actively pursuing, albeit with caution.
“We are formally engaging stakeholders, we are not formally applying,” Mema told councillors. "That’s further down the road."
Kelowna is at the forefront of the overdose epidemic plaguing the province, councillors heard, with 14 overdose deaths in the first four months of 2016 according to the B.C Coroners Service. Kamloops has suffered the same number of deaths in the same time period.
Mema said the protocol for applying for a Section 56 exemption to the Canada Health Act is necessary to offer safe consumption services requires significant community support before making formal application.
But the commitment to evidence-based solutions means the health authority will ask addicts themselves how best to deliver the service.
“We need to hear that it’s a good solution for the users and secondly, is it something the community would approve of,” Mema added.
“I want to be clear we are not talking about standalone place like Vancouver, where users inject there and that’s the only thing they offer. That’s not what we’re talking about.”
Safe consumption is considered part of the solution to the province’s soaring overdose death rate.
Find more stories on Overdoses here.
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