First Canadian injection drug site to open by March
Canada's first safe injection drug site for intravenous drug users will be opened with federal approval in Vancouver by late February or early March, Vancouver mayor Larry Campbell told the Vancouver Sun. Campbell said all indications are that no major barriers will prevent a Vancouver team of health and science agencies from submitting a proposal the first week of January and getting approval within the 60 days required by Health Canada.
It is expected that several Vancouver agencies, including the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, the British Columbia Center for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, and the Center for Disease Control, will submit an "umbrella" proposal to establish several injection sites at once rather than submitting individual proposals. The cities of Victoria, Winnipeg, Montreal, and Quebec City are expected to follow suit later in the year.
The sites are being established to help prevent accidental drug overdoses and to stop drug users from sharing needles and other paraphernalia, which can transmit HIV, hepatitis, and other blood-borne diseases. Budgetary and police oversight issues for the injection drug sites still remain to be worked out.