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BC United launches petition against drug consumption site in Richmond Hospital

B.C. is not designating overdose prevention sites in local hospitals, says Minister of Health
BC United launched a petition in opposition of setting up a safe drug consumption site in Richmond Hospital.

BC United is calling on the government to "listen to residents of Richmond" following an announcement of a task force to look into addiction supports in B.C. hospitals.

On April 16, BC United launched a petition to the NDP government in opposition to setting up safe drug consumption sites in Richmond.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix announced last week that a task force would be set up to create "active supports" to help patients manage their addictions while they are hospitalized.

"The people of Richmond have been abundantly clear that they do not want a drug consumption site in the Richmond Hospital," said BC United Leader Kevin Falcon in a media release.

"Only six weeks ago, David Eby’s NDP told Richmond residents that they would not put a drug consumption site in Richmond, yet, David Eby thinks he knows what’s best for the people of Richmond and is completely ignoring the community."

In a statement to the Richmond News, Dix clarified "smoking and drug use is not allowed in hospitals."

“We are not designating hospitals for overdose prevention sites in Richmond or anywhere else," he explained.

Dix said the purpose of the task force, which had its first meeting last Thursday, is to review existing rules and focus on "keeping people safe while gathering ideas to better support people addicted to drugs while they’re in the hospital."

He added 320 new relational security officers were hired at 26 sites as part of the B.C. health human resources strategy announced in September 2022, which was a model developed in response to concerns raised by members of the BC Nurses' Union, Hospital Employee's Union and the Health Science Association.

“Most importantly, people in the hospital need to know they will be kept safe from second hand effects of drug use," said Dix.

"That means our efforts through the task group will focus on keeping other patients, their visitors, and all of our staff safe during their visits and work in the health care system."

A motion to explore the possibility of adding a supervised drug consumption site to Richmond Hospital divided the community back in February, with hundreds showing up at Richmond City Hall chanting "no drugs, no drugs" in vehement opposition.

Although city council initially voted in support of a practicality study to explore the idea, Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) later confirmed it would not move forward with a stand-alone supervised consumption site, explaining it was "not the most appropriate service" for Richmond.

"That means the discussion on whether there will be a supervised consumption site in Richmond is closed," reads Richmond City Council's statement on Feb. 26 following VCH's confirmation. 

"There will be no site and no further discussion by council on the matter."

With files from Maria Rantanen and Castanet

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