Fraser Health is implementing temporary overdose prevention services in Langley, Abbotsford and Maple Ridge, recognizing the need to act quickly to respond to the ongoing public health emergency and to respond to the negative impacts of cold weather on our vulnerable populations.
The decision follows the Minister of Health’s measure to support the creation of overdose prevention services.
“The need to act quickly in the face of the ongoing elevated overdose numbers is paramount,” said Health Minister Terry Lake. “Overdose prevention services help save lives by ensuring people with the skills to respond are in close proximity in the event an overdose happens.”
In addition to the enhanced emergency measures that were implemented last week, Fraser Health has selected four new temporary locations following analysis of overdose data to determine the communities where the need is greatest at this time.
Fraser Health will continue with feasibility assessments for permanent supervised consumption services in high risk communities, but currently has no immediate plans to implement additional supervised sites other than the two proposed locations in Surrey.
Overdose prevention services include emergency health resources and outreach personnel to prevent and reverse overdoses and to get people out of the cold weather.
These services will be available at existing high risk settings such as shelters, and on an outreach basis to monitor and observe people at risk for overdose and respond immediately to health concerns.
There will be no supervision of illicit drug consumption.
This is an emergency strategy in locations where injections and overdose risk already exist.
Between January and November of this year, there have been 24 overdose deaths in Langley, 32 in Abbotsford, 25 in Maple Ridge, and 92 in Surrey.
“These emergency measures are essential for our at-risk populations to be monitored and treated if they overdose,” said Fraser Health chief medical health officer Dr. Victoria Lee. “The services are part of our ongoing strategy to respond to the overdose crisis with data-driven and evidence-based approaches to caring for people who use substances.”
Locations for the sites:
• Langley – Gateway of Hope (Salvation Army) – 5787 Langley Bypass;
• Abbotsford – Riverside Shelter (Lookout Emergency Aid Society) – 1640 Riverside Road;
• Maple Ridge – Maple Ridge Temporary Homeless Shelter (RainCity Housing and Support Society) – 22239 Lougheed Highway, and Salvation Army’s Ridge Meadows Ministries Shelter – 22188 Lougheed Highway.