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Safe supply: Vancouver police deputy chief says large amounts of opioids being diverted

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British Columbia’s decriminalization pilot project has been a key topic of discussion at various levels of government in recent weeks, with the conversation re-igniting after comments about diversion by a high-ranking officer of the Vancouver Police Department.

While addressing a House of Commons committee Monday, Deputy Chief Fiona Wilson claimed about 50 per cent of hydromorphone seizures were diverted from safe supply drugs.

“That’s just in recognition of the fact that someone who’s on a bonafide safe supply program has a more regular significant supply,” said Wilson, who was speaking in her role as the president of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police.

Wilson said that roughly 20 per cent of hydromorphone prescriptions in B.C. are from safe supply.

Premier David Eby was asked about these comments Tuesday, and said that this was the first time his government had heard these numbers from the VPD.

“Our government wants this information, we want to identify where and how it’s being diverted,” he said.

"Fifty per cent of the hydromorphone diverted is not from prescribed alternatives its from people’s prescriptions for pain or other uses, we need to stop all diversion."

Wilson’s comments also drew a rise from the opposition.

“It’s what we’ve been saying all along, that there is a diversion of safe supply, hydromorphone in particular,” said Elenore Sturko, B.C. United's shadow minister for mental health and addictions.

“It’s a pilot, it’s time to end this pilot,” she said.

“It doesn’t mean we can’t work on another solution but right now what is going on is not working."

Wilson says a bigger concern of hers is organized crime groups making counterfeit opioids.

“The problem is we have no idea what’s in the counterfeit pill, and it could be deadly,” she said.

Eby was asked if his government would consider ending the three-year pilot early, but he didn’t directly answer the question.

Saying they would continue to work on solutions to concerns like open drug use in hospital as well as inappropriate public spaces.

“We need to have a tool for police to be able to ensure public safety,” he said.

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