Overdose Crisis

In order to deal with the overdose crisis, OneCity supports humane, evidence-based solutions that will have positive immediate and long-term results.

The War "on Drugs” has not put us any closer to combating addiction, nor closer to preventing the catastrophic loss of life. In fact, it has led us in exactly the opposite direction, causing indescribable suffering while misusing public funds at every turn. It has lead to disproportionately high numbers of Indigenous and Black communities in Canada being imprisoned and an epidemic of overdose deaths. In Vancouver, Indigenous communities are disproportionately impacted by the overdose crisis.

The world’s unregulated drug supply is contaminated and there is no way we can police our way out of the problem. In order to deal with the overdose crisis, OneCity supports humane, evidence-based solutions that will have positive immediate and long-term results.

ADDRESSING THE CAUSES OF THE OVERDOSE CRISIS:

  • Decriminalize all drugs, including diverted prescription drugs.
  • Build thousands of affordable and supportive housing units to permanently house people who are homeless and in unstable living conditions.
  • Establish a City Advisory Committee that includes people who use drugs and others directly impacted by the crisis and fairly compensate them for their time. The committee can help set priorities on how the City responds to the overdose crisis.
  • Align policing processes and practices in public health. We need policing to better align with best practices in public health and non-interference at overdose prevention initiatives.

STRENGTHENING FRONT-LINE RESPONSES:

  • Advocate for more community overdose response teams with appropriate medical training and relationships with communities affected by the overdose crisis, who can take some of the pressure off first responders. These response teams must also include peer workers who are adequately paid and supported. Peer workers are already performing a lion’s share of the work in responding to this crisis.
  • In the interim, immediately increase the budget for firefighters who have been forced to overextend their resources in responding to a surge in overdoses.
  • Establish mandatory distribution of naloxone for all City employees and selected sites including intranasal naloxone.
  • Expand proper overdose response training to all City staff to address the stigmatization of people who use drugs.
  • Amend the Single Room Accommodation by-law to make overdose response, including naloxone training and distribution, a condition of licensure for SROs identified as experiencing overdoses (based on Emergency Responder data.)
  • Amend the Standards of Maintenance bylaw to include harm reduction, overdose prevention, and staff training in overdose response for SROs identified as experiencing overdoses.

MAKING OUR CITY SAFE FOR EVERYONE:

  • Establish a program for city-wide needle collection and distribution using sharps boxes where people who inject drugs can safely dispose of used needles. Implement a building code that makes sharps boxes mandatory in new public facilities.
  • Open up staffed safe spaces in existing public facilities as points of care for people who use drugs.

ADVOCATING FOR NATIONAL & PROVINCIAL CHANGES:

  • Call on the Federal Government to legalize all drugs.
  • Support the low-threshold hydromorphone distribution program to be implemented in Vancouver with funding from Health Canada, including its expansion pending pilot evaluation.
  • Work with medical associations and the Federal Government to change the restrictions placed on the sale of over-the-counter pain medications that drive patients to black market sources.
  • Advocate for the Province to deliver more low-threshold opioid replacement programs for methadone, suboxone, hydromorphone, and diacetylmorphine treatment.
  • Advocate for the Federal Government to expand the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act. This law prevents those at the scene of a drug overdose from charges of personal possession and is critical in removing the threat of arrest for those who call 911. We need to expand this law to immunize all of those at the scene of an overdose against arrest in order to remove barriers to calling for help in an emergency.

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