Emergency vehicles respond to an incident at the Whitehorse Emergency Shelter in 2022. (Lawrie Crawford/Yukon News)

Emergency vehicles respond to an incident at the Whitehorse Emergency Shelter in 2022. (Lawrie Crawford/Yukon News)

Looking at substance use services in the territory

Data represents some of the information available

The News has compiled a glimpse of available data related to services and agencies wrestling with the challenges of providing services to people who use substances in the Yukon.

This information has been provided by the RCMP, Health and Social Services (HSS), Yukon Hospital Corporation, Coroner’s Office and through the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act over the course of the past year.

• In the month of January 2023, 114 requests for withdrawal services were turned away or delayed. The service only tracks requests for admission, and cannot differentiate if one person called several times, or only once. (Source: HSS, February 2023)

• In 2021, 152 people were detained at the arrest processing centre at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre with instruction to “release when sober.” These 152 people accounted for 880 instances of being detained for intoxication at the unit. People are released to a safe place when sober, which includes residing at the Whitehorse Emergency Shelter. The average for each of those 152 individuals was four admissions. (Source: RCMP, September 2022)

• In 2021, there were 900 admissions to withdrawal services. The data does not reflect the number of people who may use the services multiple times through the year, or how long they stayed. Males accounted for 60 per cent of admissions. (Source: HSS, September 2022)

• In 2022, 125 people were admitted to the Whitehorse General Hospital with a primary diagnosis of substance/alcohol use. Approximately 60 per cent of those admitted were male. These admissions represent about three per cent of total admissions at the hospital. (Source: Yukon Hospital Corporation, February 2023)

• In 2022, 16 people were admitted for accidental overdoses over the course of the year. Males and females were equally represented. The list of drugs identified includes cannabis, codeine, heroin, LSD, mescaline, methadone and morphine. (Source: Yukon Hospital Corporation, February 2023)

• In 2022, 25 people succumbed to drug poisonings, most involving opioids. (Source: Yukon Coroner’s Office, February 2023)

• In 2021, there were 384 clients enrolled in the Referred Care Clinic. The Referred Care Clinic is a primary care clinic for vulnerable adults with unstable mental health and/or substance use disorders who do not have a primary care physician. Data is collected on the number of visits, and does not account for the number of visits per client, nor does the data identify primary presenting issues. (Source: HSS, August 2022)

• On the night of April 13, 2021, there were at least 151 people experiencing homelessness in Whitehorse. Thirty-eight people stayed at the Whitehorse Emergency Shelter, Kaushee’s Place and the Youth Emergency shelter. Another 21 people were sheltered in programs such as withdrawal services, the treatment program in the Sara Steele building or the Whitehorse hospital. (Source: Whitehorse Point in Time Count 2021)

• Between January 2020 and May 2021, there were an average of 29 calls to EMS per month, and an average of 37 calls to the RCMP per month, from 405 Alexander St. when HSS was operating the shelter. Over the same period there was an estimated average of 10 incident reports written per month. (Source: HSS and ATIPP, July 2022). Deaths were redacted from the summary for January 2022 citing dates of two separate incidents. Two women died on Jan. 19, 2022, with vigils covered by News.

• Between April 2021 and April 2022, there were 60 instances of police involvement, 26 physical confrontations, 28 instances of medical attentions and 22 other incidents at the 16-unit housing first residence at Wood Street and 5th Avenue. The number of incidents involving alcohol/drugs and/or suicides were redacted in the report. Harm reduction supplies distributed include 4,300 pipes (full year) and 21 naloxone kits (from September 2021). (Source: interim & Annual Report on Housing First FY22 by Connective to HSS received through ATIPP, January 2023). Officials have confirmed off the record the death of four residents of the building, and the report cites 100 per cent occupancy with four move-ins.

• Since October 2022, information will not be released regarding any incidents that take place within the shelter at 405 Alexander St. Connective will not be reporting the number of calls to EMS or the RCMP. Connective said reports to HSS will include shelter use, number of meals served and tenancy updates for housing first units. Connective will report any critical incidents that may impact shelter operations to the Yukon government, but will not comment, confirm, deny or provide any information to the media, citing their utmost respect for privacy concerns of people at the shelter. (Source: Connective, February 7, 2023). Vigils and memorials at the shelter indicate that two residents have died since October 2022.

Contact Lawrie Crawford at lawrie.crawford@yukon-news.com