Peer harm reduction workers move to unionize in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside

published on March 14, 2020 by Amy Smart in CBC News - BC

When the overdose crisis struck British Columbia four years ago, Dave Apsey was among a small group of people in a unique position to respond.

As a drug user who helped open a needle exchange in 2003, Apsey said he knows first-hand about addiction and is trusted in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside as a member of the community. His position as a peer enabled him to respond to more than 2,000 overdoses.

Until last April, wages at the needle exchange had only increased by $1 an hour over a 16-year period above the $13.50 that Apsey was originally paid, even as the cost of living in Vancouver skyrocketed, he said.

He is among a group of peer harm reduction workers who are pushing to join a union…

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