Exposure of The Failures of Vancouver Drug Injection Site
The Final Report of an Expert Advisory Committee summarizing evidence-based research on the injection site in Vancouver has exposed it as a failure. It has also exposed the fallacy of the arguments used to support the site when it was first established in 2003.
The federal government should immediately withdraw its support for the site to indicate its willingness to learn from past mistakes, and to deal with the reality of the situation made apparent by the Advisory Committee’s report.
This report on the Vancouver site, which latter costs the taxpayers $3 million annually to operate, includes the following findings:
- Only 5% of injections take place at this site and 95% of drug injections take place outside the site;
- The site prevented only one death from overdose last year. (According to the Government of British Columbia Selected Vital Statistics and Health Status Indicators, Annual Report, 2005, the number of deaths from drug overdose has increased each year since the site was opened, going from 49 in 2002, to 50 in 2003, to 64 in 2004 and to 77 in 2005).
- There is no evidence that this site has reduced rates of HIV or other infections.
- There is no evidence that the crime rate has decreased in the downtown east side of Vancouver where the site is located.
- There is no evidence that the site has reduced the rate of drug addiction.
In view of the failure of the Vancouver Injection site, it is time now to focus on that which has been proven to be effective against drug addiction: prevention and treatment. That is where our tax dollars should be expended.
The federal government should withdraw support from the Vancouver Site so that the money spent on the site can now be moved to funding projects that are effective, such as prevention and treatment.
C. Gwendolyn Landolt, Vice President, Drug Prevention Network of Canada and
National Vice President, REAL Women of Canada
(905) 731-5425, (905) 889-1993