Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

Brontë Renwich-Shields

Blood Ties leads supervised consumption site

The Blood Ties Four Directions Centre will be leading the operation of the new supervised consumption site set to open in Whitehorse.

By Whitehorse Star on September 13, 2021

The Blood Ties Four Directions Centre will be leading the operation of the new supervised consumption site set to open in Whitehorse.

As part of a new agreement with the Yukon government, Blood Ties will provide integrated services at 6189 Sixth Avenue, near Cook Street, including the operation of the supervised consumption site.

Originally planned to open in late August, the facility will now begin operations Sept. 29.

Blood Ties provides a range of harm reduction and social services, including drug testing; harm reduction counselling; access to naloxone; drug use equipment exchange; access to medical care from a licensed practical nurse; referrals to social supports; referrals to medical and counselling treatment services; and training in safer use practices.

Supervised consumption sites do not provide substances for people to use, Blood Ties and the Yukon government noted in a statement released Friday.

The Whitehorse supervised consumption site will provide a safer and supportive place where five individuals at the same time can consume illicit substances in the presence of trained health professionals.

Supervised consumption sites have numerous benefits such as reducing the number of overdose deaths; increased referrals and entry into withdrawal and substance use treatment; reducing HIV/HCV risk; and improved access to medical treatment, health care and other support services.

The site will be open to clients from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

It will operate under a class exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substance Act, granted by Health Canada in September 2020 for urgent public health need sites.

Whitehorse residents are invited to an open house from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 27.

“The government will keep the conversation open with residents, local businesses, First Nations governments and non-governmental organizations as the new facility begins operating,” the statement said.

The site is an element of the Confidence and Supply Agreement (CASA) reached in late April to keep the Liberal party in power. It’s supported by the Liberal and NDP caucuses.

“Blood Ties is very excited to be partnering with the Yukon government on the operations of the supervised consumption site,” said Brontë Renwich-Shields, the organization’s executive director.

“A supervised consumption site in Whitehorse is a critical piece in addressing the overdose crisis. This site will provide wraparound health services and supports and will be a place for people to connect and build community.

“This is a great step forward for the Yukon in terms of how we support people who use drugs,” Renwich-Shields added.

Since the spring of 2016, the Yukon has had 47 opioid-related deaths including 14 so far this year.

“Our work to combat the opioid crisis in the Yukon is strengthened by our partnership with Blood Ties Four Directions Centre,” said Health and Social Services Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee.

“The Whitehorse supervised consumption site is part of an integrated service delivery model aimed at stopping the opioid crisis.

“Every time we lose a Yukoner to an opioid-related overdose, it has a ripple effect in our community. We all have a role to play in ending this crisis, and it starts with changing how we talk about substance use, ending the stigma and supporting those in need in our community.”

The CASA agreement is in effect until Jan. 31, 2023.

“It is the hard work of advocates, parents, and community organizers that has brought about this moment,” said Annie Blake, the NDP MLA for Vuntut Gwitchin.

“For years, Blood Ties has been on the frontlines supporting vulnerable community members and educating the territory. Their work and commitment has showed they are best positioned to provide a safe, accessible space to those who need it.

“The number of Yukoners we have lost to overdoses is staggering, and it’s time to address this crisis directly.”

Comments (16)

Up 15 Down 1

Jim on Sep 17, 2021 at 10:51 am

@Bob, let’s be fair here. Yes, Alcohol is a drain on society and addicts have been told they have a disease as if it’s cancer. But we are not using taxpayers money to build consumption sites for alcohol. We do not staff bars with staff to stand by while you consume illegal (yes, they are still illegal) drugs and save your life if you OD. We are normalizing this behaviour because it easier than trying to cure the problem. The government makes money off every bottle of booze. These junkies will still be buying their drugs off the street unless the government starts handing it out for free. On a side note, how many bars would survive being open from 10 am to 7pm? This is all just a sad photo op.

Up 14 Down 1

Grim on Sep 16, 2021 at 2:43 pm

What's the safest, cheapest place to run a drug business, no surveillance, no raids, just a bunch of old people for neighbors, and free laundry?

Up 3 Down 12

Bob on Sep 16, 2021 at 3:44 am

Hey Dave, do you drink alcohol because if you do that is also a drug that has writhed untold misery on society by being a big lie for many many abusers.
Why does alcohol get a free ride when it is at the root of so many societal problems?

Up 19 Down 1

TheGaffer on Sep 15, 2021 at 6:00 pm

The other safe hard drug site between 11 pm and 3 am is the Alexander St. seniors residence, thanks to the Minister Responsible for Housing.

Up 27 Down 1

It's a dream come true for the Community! on Sep 15, 2021 at 5:38 pm

"This site will provide wraparound health services and supports and will be a place for people to connect and build community."

Git yer crack pipe and herion needle, grab some fentanyl pills and let's all meet at the Blood Ties Shootin' Gallery! Come on folks, join us in our Community Building! We can dump some couches in the Cook Street park and take a trip together down the yellow brick road riding our magic carpets. When the high wears off, well, there are lots of backyards and garages, and cars and homes to pilfer, and the local dealers will no doubt move in nearby.

How wonderful for the neighbours! Real community building here, and wrap-around services.

Up 18 Down 9

Matthew on Sep 15, 2021 at 9:22 am

Since Trudeau LIEberals have been in power he has claimed to be transparent, but of course the EXACT opposite is true..

Up 33 Down 3

Nathan Living on Sep 14, 2021 at 5:59 pm

Instead of pandering to addicts why not have a work camp where they cut firewood and get clean.
I do not know what model is used, but even with all the deaths addiction is not being reduced.

Up 37 Down 5

Yukoner on Sep 14, 2021 at 8:44 am

Didn't we already go through a similar process with the Salvation Army... a few months down the road it will be back in YGs hands having to deal with it. This Liberal government is looking for a quick fix and win with their NDP promises without planning it out properly.

Up 37 Down 6

TMYK on Sep 14, 2021 at 7:36 am

When will these NGOs quit being NGOs and be recognized as the businesses they really are? Looking at you Blood Ties, Raven Recycling and the horde of other NGOs using this backdoor to have their business' subsidized.

Up 34 Down 11

bonanzajoe on Sep 13, 2021 at 9:16 pm

Supervising druggies doing their illicit drugs. Instead of helping druggies kick their habit, the Liberals turned Marxists gave up the work of helping, to supervise their people's shameful addictions. Bringing more shame on them. New age Liberals have no moral values or code of ethics.

Up 32 Down 8

Rick S on Sep 13, 2021 at 7:57 pm

I'd like to see the salaries of Blood Ties' administrators.

Up 31 Down 19

Josey Wales on Sep 13, 2021 at 4:43 pm

Hey wadda ya know...a NGO who lobbied for such a chance to allegedly never profit spending your money and destruction of our community.
...is the one running it, gobsmacked with surprise I am ! >>>*complete sarcasm for the cognitive and reading comprehension challenges * <<<

We need a facility to reduce the spread of more stupid, never mind opioids.
Looking around our hyper aware of public health...public?
Looks like we need one to attempt a BMI reduction of our population.
Too many with blood type gravy, telling us what we need for a safe and healthy society.

Up 51 Down 4

Curious on Sep 13, 2021 at 4:28 pm

Where do clients go between 7 pm and 10 am???

Up 53 Down 15

Dave on Sep 13, 2021 at 2:58 pm

I don’t do any drugs and I feel so left out of today’s Whitehorse, maybe I better start so I can fit in.

Up 53 Down 8

Thomas Brewer on Sep 13, 2021 at 2:43 pm

So what's the cost for this? Renovations to the facility, will it remain YG property? How much is the contract to Blood Ties.... starting to not look like an NGO anymore...

Up 51 Down 8

John on Sep 13, 2021 at 2:42 pm

What is the contract value and what in detail does it include? Or will my questions be ghosted by the transparent government? We have a right to know!

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