Health Canada announced Friday it has approved three new supervised consumption sites in the Lower Mainland to help combat the drug overdose crisis.
Two sites will open in Surrey, through Fraser Health, and one will open in Vancouver, led by Vancouver Coastal Health.
These sites will replace existing overdose prevention sites created through a ministerial order in December by former Health Minister Terry Lake.
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Surrey and Vancouver have been two of the hardest hit cities during the epidemic, with more than 1,000 people dying of a drug overdose since the beginning of 2016.
Vancouver already has two supervised consumption sites, and chief coroner Lisa Lapointe has said no one has died there since they opened.
Fraser Health chief medical health officer Victoria Lee called the sites “critical components” of the overdose prevention response strategy in Surrey.
“It’s an important component, especially for people that are concerned about public drug usage, inappropriately discarded needles and overdoses and deaths that are occurring in public places,” she said. “We have strong evidence that safe consumption services decreseases those.
The two sites in Surrey will offer a harm reduction component that can connect interested patients to HIV care and treatment services.
Applications for four more supervised consumption sites in the province, including one in Victoria, are still awaiting a decision from Ottawa.