Kennedy Stewart Announces Plan to Launch a Downtown Eastside Emergency Task Force

Plan takes action on opioids to save lives and build a healthy city

Vancouver – Today, Vancouver mayoral candidate Kennedy Stewart announced his plan to launch a Downtown Eastside emergency task force to save lives and tackle the opioid crisis.

“We showed North America the way with InSite. It was a model for how to save lives and support communities,” said Stewart. “We can do the same now with the opioid crisis.”

Stewart stressed that the need to pull together the city, the health authority, community groups and the Vancouver Police Department was imperative.

“It's time for Vancouver to lead again in face of the worst health care crisis in modern Canadian history,” said Stewart. "As Mayor, I will form an emergency task force to work with the community and immediately implement achievable actions to save lives.”

The task force will focus on:

Preventing more deaths from fentanyl

Recommend quick-start actions that the city, province and federal government can immediately take to stop fentanyl deaths resulting from the poisoned drug supply, as well as follow-up medium and long-term actions to provide the broadest possible support for the community.

All policy options will be open for consideration, including initiating a safe and accessible supply of drugs for those at high risk in the current illegal and dangerous market, expanding safe consumption sites, and new fentanyl alert testing facilities.

Negotiating a new Vancouver Agreement

Work with council to negotiate a new Vancouver Agreement with the provincial and federal governments, building on the previous Vancouver Agreement which expired in 2010.

Foster greater cooperation between all three levels of government and more efficient implementation of an overall strategy to promote and support sustainable economic, social, and community development in the DTES.

Supporting front-line workers

Develop initiatives to provide support for all front-line workers, including training for front- line workers, expanded mental health supports and more peer-to-peer training and services.

Identifying substance substitution programs

Identify new substance substitution programs and delivery methods to help move people away from drug use and towards better health.

Providing better treatment

Establish more accessible and low-threshold addiction treatment and support new substance substitution programs and delivery methods to help move people away from drug use and towards recovery.

Respecting community knowledge

Recognize and reinforce the value and knowledge of local residents, front-line peer-to-workers, and health experts, as well as the specific needs of Indigenous Peoples, women, and the intersectionality of DTES community members.

These actions are in addition to Stewart’s recently announced housing measures that will help support DTES community members, including building 25,000 new non-profit affordable rental homes; launching a new Renters’ Advocate Office; and expropriating Single Room Occupancy buildings that are being negligently managed and operated.

“For a city as wealthy as ours, failing to take action is more than unacceptable. It’s shameful. Vancouver has led North America on saving lives, and we have to again. We just need to have the courage to act. As your mayor, I will tackle the opioid crisis and help make Vancouver a city that works for everyone,” continued Stewart.

Kennedy Stewart Announces Plan to Launch a Downtown Eastside Emergency Task Force
Kennedy Stewart Announces Plan to Launch a Downtown Eastside Emergency Task Force
I'm with @KennedyStewart for Vancouver Mayor 2018. #vanpoli #Kennedy18
Kennedy Stewart Announces Plan to Launch a Downtown Eastside Emergency Task Force