Harm Reduction

Project Team Leader: Dr. Michael C.K. Ma, Department of Criminology, KPU, michael.ma@kpu.ca

On January 18, 2017, the B.C. Ministry of Health and BC Coroners Service reported that 914 illicit drug overdose deaths occurred in 2016 (BC Coroners Service 2017). December 2016 was the highest recorded number of overdose deaths in one month in BC and more than double the average of illicit drug overdose deaths since 2015. This is a staggering number of overdose deaths that has garnered much local and national attention. Surrey itself has seen a 42% increase in overdose deaths in this period. The presence of fentenayl and carfentenayl –newer synthetic opiods-- has also been widely reported as being the causes of much of these overdoses as they are rapidly introduced into the illicit drug market. However, we know very little about these patterns of drug use in Surrey, BC. Neither Surrey RCMP police services nor Fraser Health services are conducting studies of illicit drug use in Surrey. The SJC seeks to remedy this gap in knowledge by examining the patterns of illicit drug use and harm reduction in Surrey, BC. With our upcoming Surrey Illicit Drug Use Survey (SIDUS)—to be conducted at the Gateway Shelter on 135a avenue—we will quantify existing illicit drug practices, illicit drug-related harms, and gaps in public health service delivery. The survey is comprised of 30 questions asking respondents to provide information regarding their patterns of drug use.

Since 2013, the SJC has been developing research on illicit drug use patterns and access to harm reduction services such as sterile needle distribution, medically-supervised injection spaces and evidence-based addiction treatment in Surrey, BC. This work has involved four different but intersecting methods: an epidemiological perspective, a social determinants of health perspective, a community engagement perspective and a legal or rights-based perspective. If we are to support the adoption of harm reduction strategies in Surrey, then it is imperative that we understand the patterns of illicit drug use that gives rise to the need for supervised injection sites, overdose prevention services, safe consumption sites, managed alcohol programs and/or safe inhalation sites. At present we have little empirical knowledge of the patterns of illicit drug use in Surrey. As the only academic research project working on this issue, the SJC is working to grow this body of knowledge regarding drug use and harm reduction in Surrey by engaging in research, capacity-building, and an examination of harm reduction strategies.

For more information: Michael Ma, Department of Criminology, KPU, michael.ma@kpu.ca


Overdose Memorial - Downtown Eastside Street Market - April 11, 2017

For more from Donald MacPherson: www.drugpolicy.ca

We are working with various organizations to help increase access to harm reduction in Surrey, BC.  

July 27, 2016 - Pop-Up Safe Injection Site at 135A, Surrey


For More, See CBC News story: Pop-up supervised injection site hits Surrey streets

June 16, 2016 - WISH Drop-In Centre site visit - information gathering/discussion



June 13, 2016, BC/Yukon Drug War Survivors AGM & workshop on Hepatitis C: Prevention & Treatment, Participant


Vancouver drug users march through the Downtown Eastside in a national day of action on overdose deaths

With protests in seven cities across Canada, activists said what's needed to address the fentanyl crisis is the legalization of hard drugs including heroin


VANDU logo.jpg


a grassroots democratic organization of drug users with over 2,000 members; the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users has had and continues to have considerable impact on public policy and practice related to the use of illicit drugs.



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Mayor Gregor Robertson states:

"These users need immediate accessible opioid replacement therapy such as Suboxone, Methadone, or prescription injectable heroin or hydromorphone."