Province backs and will fund supervised injection sites in Toronto

January 10, 2017
Article Source
Toronto Star

Overdose deaths of more than 250 Torontonians a year is a preventable "epidemic," the city's public health boss declared as Ontario agreed to fund supervised drug injection services at three sites.

The opioid crisis "is having a devastating impact on individuals, on their families and on our community," Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Toronto's acting medical officer of health, warned at an inaugural monthly meeting after marshalling those involved in the struggle, including police and drug users.

Hours before the gathering, Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins confirmed the province will pay to install and operate sites at three health centres where users will inject their own illegal drugs under medical supervision.

"I believe that community-supported and community-run supervised injection services will not only save lives, but also must be part of a larger strategy for harm reduction and supports for people struggling with addiction," Hoskins said in a statement.

Yaffe applauded the news, saying the city will immediately hire staff and begin renovations at the following sites:

  • The Toronto Public Health-operated needle exchange at Yonge and Dundas Sts.
  • Queen West Central Toronto Community Health Centre on Bathurst St.
  • South Riverdale Community Health Centre near Carlaw Ave.

She expects it will be "several months" before the centres can get the required inspection and approval by Health Canada to open as Canada's first safe-injection sites since Vancouver's Insite launched in 2003.

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