New Supports for Safe Supply and Harm Reduction
The following is a statement from Mayor Kennedy Stewart on new supports for safe supply and harm reduction in anticipation of Ottawa’s decision on the City’s application to decriminalize drugs.
“The Provincial Government’s initiative to scale up and expand access to prescribed safer supply is a welcome step that will save many lives. I want to thank the Premier, B.C.’s Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and all those who are working to improve access to safe prescribed alternatives to illicit street drugs.
I also want to acknowledge funding announced this week by Minister Hajdu to the City of Vancouver through the Substance Use and Addictions Program. Vancouver was one of 13 projects across Canada that was awarded funding to provide supports for those using substances. The City’s Peer Overdose Prevention Program will provide training by and for peers and work to develop guidance and distribute resources on harm reduction and treatment for those working in the health field.
We welcome both the Provincial and Federal announcements to strengthen safe supply and support harm reduction initiatives. However, the overdose crisis has taken the lives of more than 7,000 of our fellow citizens, and we must continue to bolster and expand these types of proven policies.
To that end, the City of Vancouver has applied to the federal government for an exemption from the criminal provision on the possession of drugs. We should hear in the coming days and weeks from Ottawa about the decision on the City’s application. We are hopeful that soon Vancouver too can contribute by becoming the first city to decriminalize drugs and contribute in the fight against the overdose crisis.”