COVID-19 is the second public health emergency in BC in five years.

April 2016: BC declares a public health emergency in response to the rapid rise in overdoses and overdose deaths.

March 2020: BC declares a second public health emergency in response to the worldwide pandemic COVID-19.

The problems

Lack of shelter

Substandard housing SROs, an overcrowded shelter system, and ongoing high numbers of street homelessness pressures the capacity for social distancing, hygiene, and self care.

Access to safe supply

Lack of access to doctors, pharmacies, and delivery methods that support ongoing stabilization.

Limiting access to food and essentials

Limited personal private space limits the capacity for storage of items like food and personal hygiene products; these have to be sourced regularly.

Lack of support and protection for frontline workers

Despite a years-long public health opioid crisis that carries stress, trauma, and risk, frontline workers still lack adequate support, protection, and pay.

The solutions

Hotel rooms as shelter

Providing space for both prevention (and social distancing) and recovery from the effects of COVID-19

Ensure safe drug supply

Provides stabilization for the drug user and workplace safety for the frontline worker. Opiates, stimulants, alcohol, and tobacco are all a part of safe supply.

Organize frontline workers to deliver services

Supporting delivery of food, medication, tobacco, among other needs, in order to support social distancing.

Increase supports

Acknowledge the increased demand through compensation, providing necessary equipment, and support to manage increased stress and exposure to trauma.