urban health

'We Were Seen as Quite Scary': PHS's Townsend

 Photo: Matt Kieltyka/Metro

There was a sense of relief in Vancouver on the morning of Dec. 14, 2002 when squatters began taking down their tent city around the vacant Woodward's building, filling six dumpsters with trash. The peaceful dismantling of the 92-day Woodsquat was largely organized by the Portland Hotel Society. The group's credibility with street people helped avert a potentially violent riot and expensive police action.

NS News Editorial on PHC Heroin Case

After years study, a group of B.C. doctors applied to Health Canada for permission to prescribe heroin to 21 addicts last fall. Permission was granted.

It was right about then that mollifying the Conservative base trumped science.

Federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose denounced her own department's decision. She also promised to close up drug access program “loopholes,” thereby reducing years of study to nothing more than a crooked accountant's sleight of numbers trick.

CBC Radio interviews PIVOT legal lawyer Douglas King about PHC's heroin case

Pivot legal lawyer Douglas King speaks to host Stephen Quinn about asking B.C. Supreme Court for an injunction to a group of five people access to prescription heroin.

Click here to listen to the audio

B.C. addicts in court fighting federal ban on prescription heroin

VANCOUVER - A group of chronic drug addicts are asking a Vancouver judge for an injunction against the federal government that would allow them access to prescription heroin until the court hears their legal challenge of the law.

Pete McMartin: The Portland Hotel Society -- Oh. My. God.

Photograph by: RICHARD LAM , THE CANADIAN PRESS

I don’t know where to start.

There’s just so much that jumps out at you that’s egregious, hilariously improbable and, in the context of a social welfare agency the efforts of which should be entirely concentrated on the poor and marginalized, obscene.

Almost $9,000 in limousine charges. In one year.

Stays at the best hotel rooms — some of them approaching $900 a night — in Paris, Istanbul, Ottawa, Vienna, Los Angeles, New York City. (Personally, I can’t afford to stay at the Plaza.)

Pete McMartin Reports

Vancouver prescription heroin users wage court battle with the feds

ANOTHER VANCOUVER-BASED HARM-REDUCTION initiative is entering the courts in a battle with the federal government.

On March 25, Providence Health Care and five long-time opiate users will appear in B.C. Supreme Court as plaintiffs in an effort to secure diacetylmorphine, or prescription heroin, as a legal means of managing addiction.

Mark Townsend: The Portland Hotel Society’s work must go on

Photo by: Ian Smith

The Portland Hotel Society (PHS) was the subject of a recent article, which suggested it could be facing involuntary receivership due to “financial irregularities” and concerns about its “spending practices.” PHS is an organization committed to dealing with issues facing people on the margins of society, who are caught in a complicated and complex policy and social environment. This work is focused on delivering effective solutions that help create change in the community.

Brian Hutchinson: Vancouver Downtown Eastside social service provider PHS is neither too big or too cheap to fail

Canada’s most notorious neighbourhood has been in the news a lot this month, and while every story about the Downtown Eastside touches on human misery — walk the streets, it’s impossible to avoid — the main focus is money: How tens of millions of public dollars are funneled each month into the nation’s poorest postal code. How they might be better spent, or not spent at all.

How 'One-Stop' Care Lifts New Moms from Addiction

Sun streams into the bright room painted in vibrant hues of green and blue. In a messy circle of soft sofas, baby strollers and rockers, six women sit watching infants crawl at their feet and toddlers play with scattered toys. Loud laughter fills the room, adding to the cheerful ambience. Looking in from the outside, it seems the typical sort of “mom meet-up” that happens in living rooms and community centres anywhere.

Metro Vancouver homeless count finds increase of seniors living on streets

The 2014 Metro Vancouver homeless count is under way and volunteers are already saying there are more seniors on the streets this year.

Mayor Gregor Robertson, who has pledged to end homelessness in the city by 2015, joined about 900 volunteers on the streets Tuesday night.

The 24-hour count takes place every three years, and Robertson said he expects to see fewer than the 2,623 homeless people recorded in 2011.

However, he agreed it is troubling that volunteers are seeing more seniors living on the streets.

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