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Trudeau appears open to safe opioid supply proposal in Vancouver: mayor

Last Updated Nov 21, 2019 at 4:42 pm PDT

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with the Mayor of Vancouver, Kennedy Stewart in his office on Parliament hill in Ottawa on Thursday November 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA — Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appeared open to a proposal from the municipality to provide millions in funding for a safe supply of opioids to reduce overdose deaths.

The city’s health agency has applied for $6 million from Health Canada to allow for the safe distribution of diamorphine — a narcotic painkiller more commonly known as heroin.

Stewart says he found it encouraging that Trudeau didn’t shut the door to the idea during a meeting the two had this morning in Ottawa.

He says on average, one person dies every day from an opioid overdose in Vancouver, where residents are calling for more urgent action.

The mayor says he was also pleased to learn Patty Hajdu is the new health minister, as she has experience with harm-reduction strategies, and hopes to sit down with her about the city’s proposal sometime soon.

Vancouver was the first jurisdiction in Canada to open supervised injection sites in the early 2000s and Stewart says he wants to keep exploring other innovative ways to solve its deadly opioid crisis.