What you need to know about London's bid for supervised injection sites

August 3, 2017

Getting a supervised injection site doesn't come quickly.

While London has checked off some of the requirements to apply for supervised injection services, it's not touched on some of the basics, including who would be applying to Health Canada for approval. 

It comes as the city's HIV rates are growing faster than anywhere else in Ontario — as are the rates of Hepatitis C and two other types of injection-related infections. The Middlesex-London Health Unit even declared injection drug use a public health emergency last summer. 

The city hands out 2.5 million needles to drug users every year, second only to Vancouver when it comes to publicly-funded needle use.

But unlike Vancouver, health officials say Londoners are not dying quickly of overdose. They're dying slowly due to infections that cripple their heart valves. 

Users inject drugs in alleys and parks, along the Thames River and in their own homes. 

Advocates say they need a supervised place to get clean needles, be watched as they inject by nurses, and have access to treatment if they need it. 

No lead agency for supervised injection site

In London, health fficials and addictions advocates have hinted they'd like to see a broad range of supervised injection services, not just one site. Those services would be integrated into existing health services, such as the Middlesex-London Health Unit, the London Intercommunity Health Centre or Regional/HIV Aids Connection. 

Those three agencies have formed a partnership to focus on getting supervised injection services into the city, but none have stepped up to be a lead agency on the matter. 

Earlier this week, city councillors voted to form a working group about the opioid crisis in London, though they didn't define who would be on it or what, exactly, it would do that isn't already being done. 

Read more: What you need to know about London's bid for supervised injection sites