Nearly one year after British Columbia declared a public health emergency because of a surge in overdose deaths, a new academic position has been created to help find solutions.
Simon Fraser University, the St. Paul's Foundation, the B.C. Centre on Substance Use and B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS have announced Kanna Hayashi, will chair a new position in substance use research.
SFU calls Hayashi, already a professor at the university, an internationally-recognized substance-use epidemiologist.
Hayashi will work to advance understanding in substance use, liaising with government, community and clinical stakeholders to better integrate best practices throughout B.C.
"We need more tools to address this overdose epidemic and in order to develop the tools. I think we need more research to come up with evidence-based options," said Hyashi.
It comes as British Columbia's overdose crisis shows no signs of abating. Firefighters responded to 162 overdose calls during the week beginning on March 20 — a 56 per cent increase from the week before.
Long time advocate, and past president of VANDU Dean Wilson spoke at the event announcing Hayashi's appointment, saying it has been an 'incredibly dark time for my community, the Downtown Eastside."
"I feel that many people have come together and said enough is enough," said Wilson.
"It was Canadian research from this province and this community that led to the Insite victory at the Supreme Court of Canada and advanced human rights and health in this country. And it will be research based right here that will fight the overdose crisis devastating our community today."