Letter: Front-line workers support safe injection sites

Safe Injection Facilities do not increase street crime; reliable studies show … a significant decrease in vehicle-break in.

To the editor:

Interior Health is proposing Safe Injection Facilities (SIF) in Kelowna and Kamloops.

We, health professionals, community leaders, academics, and front line workers who live in Kelowna, are writing to support SIFs in our communities.

SIFs save lives: Peer-reviewed studies show that fatal overdoses in areas served by an SIF decrease by close to 50 per cent. SIFs do not increase street crime; in fact, reliable studies show that they correlate with a significant decrease in vehicle-break in.

SIFs do not lead to higher rates of illicit drug use, and because users come in contact with health care workers, SIF facilities allow more drug users to access rehabilitation and other support services. Relapse rates go down, crime goes down, disease transmission goes down, and, most importantly, lives are saved.

We understand that there is discomfort with providing a space for people to engage in behaviour that some find morally objectionable. However, we urge our fellow Kelownians to see the opportunity for SIF facilities to help illicit drug users transition to healthier, safer, more productive lives. Ultimately, we want to save lives.

Dr. Matthew Burnett, registered psychologist

Dr. Michael V. Smith, university professor

Sheila Kerr, harm reduction and outreach worker

Dr. Ruthann Lee, university professor

Mitch Walker, MA, criminologist

Dr. Ann McKinnon, college professor

Katharine Lewall, MSW, social worker

Clare McDonald, executive director, Living Positive Resource Centre

Wilbur Turner, director, Board of Living Positive Resource Centre

Dr. Norah Bowman, college professor