Ontario Government Will Keep Safe Injection Sites Open
The issue of safe injection sites is a controversial one, with advocates declaring them a clean and safe way for high-risk individuals to use substances, and critics insisting they keep a user in a cycle of addiction.
Nearby Brampton recently was planning to open a safe injection site on Main Street, but those plans had been put on hold pending a decision by the new Ontario government on sites across the province.
Now that decision has been made: they’re staying open.
Health Minister Christine Elliott announced on Monday, October 22 that the Ontario government will keep injection sites open as part of a new revised model.
The program will be rebranded as the “Consumption and Treatment Services Model”, Elliott said, adding that they are moving towards a ‘new, enhanced approach to treatment services.’ Existing sites could apply to continue operating under the planned new model.
“Services provided under the new Consumption and Treatment Services model would better address the physical and mental health, as well as social needs of people addicted to opioids and other drugs,” Elliott said.
“Our new delivery model would provide a pragmatic approach to overdose prevention, rooted in a relentless focus on getting people the help that they need by connecting them to treatment.”
The injection services will be provided at permanent stand alone structures, Elliott continued, adding that ‘pop up sites and tents will not be permitted and this prohibition will be strictly enforced.
Approved sites are anticipated to begin the transition to the new model beginning in January 2019, with all approved sites expected to be in place by April of next year.
The opposition NDP said, while it was a welcome move that the Ford government has decided to keep Overdose Prevention Sites (OPS) open, they did not like the arbitrary cap on the number of sites allowed.
“Addictions tear families apart, and ruin lives. About 200 people have died from preventable overdoses just since Mr. Ford’s review of Overdose Prevention Sites started,” says NDP MPP Bhutila Karpoche in a press release.
“For Ford to halt progress on lifesaving consumption sites in order to spend months coming up with a new name and an arbitrary cap on the number of sites,” adding that all existing sites and proposed sites will now have to reapply to the province.
“Capping the number of sites at 21 and forcing all existing sites and proposed sites to reapply means Mr. Ford is pitting communities against one another to compete for the overdose prevention help they need,” Karpoche continued.
“The evidence is clear: overdose prevention sites save lives, which means people can go on to get the treatment they need and build the life they want. Ford should never have stopped harm reduction workers from doing their life-saving jobs, and he shouldn’t be imposing arbitrary caps on that work now.”
According to the Peel HIV and AIDS Network (PHAN), safe injection sites is absolutely necessary. PHAN confirmed that more people died of opioid-related deaths in the Region of Peel over three months in the summer 2017 than in all of 2013.
So there is a need of this type of facility; do you agree that safe injection sites should continue to operate?
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