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Alberta Safe Injection Sites Under Review

Alberta Safe Injection Sites Under Review

By Eryn Pinksen

Alberta Health Services is conducting a review of the province’s supervised consumption services. Edmonton currently has four safe-injection sites, after the Royal Alexandra Hospital recently opened a site in April.

The review began in September and a public survey closed on Sept. 30 that inquired about a list of topics the review committee has heard regarding the sites, including:

• Crime rates, needle debris, complaints of social disorder.
• Data collection, residential property values, business impacts (bottom lines, trends, closures).
• Overdose reversals, emergency medical service calls, referrals to treatment providers.
• Proposed solutions to address impacts of the sites.””
(According to the Government of Alberta)

“As we committed in our platform, we are moving ahead with a review of supervised consumption sites. We’ve heard Albertans’ concerns about impacts on their homes, businesses and communities. We’ve chosen a panel of experts to listen to Albertans, review the evidence, and report back on their findings,” said Jason Luan, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions.

The committee is made up of eight experts, including a previous EPS chief, professors and psychiatrists, a mother who lost her son to an apparent Fentanyl overdose and others.

The four supervised consumption sites in Edmonton are found at Boyle Street Community Services, Boyle McCauley Health Centre, George Spady Centre and the Royal Alexandra Hospital. The Sites are concentrated in various locations in the downtown core.

Alberta Safe Injection Sites Under Review
Graph: A Community Based Report on Alberta’s Supervised Consumption Service Effectiveness August 2019 prepared by the Alberta Community Council on HIV

Since the first provincial site opening in November 2017, the staff in SCS have maintained a 100% success rate in saving users from overdoses, and over four thousand drug overdoses have been reversed in the province as a result of the SCS services.

The review mandate from the Government of Alberta says it will focus on ways to:

• Address social and economic impacts of existing sites on local neighbourhoods.
• Inform decisions around the establishment of future sites and ways to reduce the potential for negative social and economic impacts.
• Inform a provincial policy that outlines required criteria for provincial funding.
(According to the Government of Alberta)

Supervised consumption sites were implemented as a space to provide hygienic and safe use of pre-obtained drugs and have trained staff on-site.

The staff supplies sterile equipment and have naloxone kits to use if there is an opioid overdose. They also connect people to treatment providers.

Currently there are supervised consumption sites in many major Alberta cities, including: Edmonton, Calgary, Grande Prairie, Lethbridge and Red Deer with a few more proposed locations. All the sites are under review by the appointed committee.

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