WHITEHORSE — Those who use illicit drugs may now smoke their substances at the supervised drug consumption site in Whitehorse, becoming one of the first facilities in Canada to allow inhalation indoors.
The Yukon government says a new room with an upgraded ventilation system has been added to the facility, which opened in 2021 to provide services such as drug testing and access to the overdose-reversing medication naloxone.
Bronte Renwick-Shields, executive director of Blood Ties Four Directions Centre, which supported the site's expansion, says inhalation is one of the most common methods for people using drugs in Yukon and it's important that the services provided reflect the community's needs.
A statement from Health Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee says the supervised consumption site, the only one in the territory, is a critical part of Yukon's response to the substance use health emergency declared in January.
Yukon's top doctor at the time, Dr. Catherine Elliott, had reported a record 23 deaths from toxic drugs last year, a 475 per cent increase from 2019.
Statistics released last year showed the territory had the highest per capita opioid overdose death rate in Canada at 48.4 per 100,000 people.
Yukon's supervised consumption site does not supply drugs for people to use. Instead, the government says it offers a safe place for people to consume their own drugs with trained health professionals on hand to provide care, if necessary.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 30, 2022.
The Canadian Press