Supervised injection sites face new roadblocks in Toronto with provincial guidelines

November 6, 2018
Article Source
Toronto Star

Life-saving overdose prevention sites risk being shut down amid an ongoing opioid crisis after Premier Doug Ford's government introduced new rules that front line workers say create unnecessary barriers.

The Ford government launched a review of safe consumption and overdose prevention sites this summer -- putting the brakes on the opening of three overdose prevention sites in Ontario -- and worrying advocates that the programs and services would be defunded and barred altogether.

Health Minister Christine Elliott announced on Oct. 22 that the sites could continue operating under new guidelines.

But those rules create needless red tape and restrictions, say concerned workers and a Toronto city councillor, with peoples' lives at stake. And with a lack of clarity on the new deadlines to apply and requirements, the provincial government is refusing to answer key questions.

"I feel like crying. I feel like we started a service in Moss Park 15 months ago to show what you do in an emergency and what you do to save lives," said Sarah Ovens with the Toronto Overdose Prevention Society, an advocacy group that has repeatedly called on governments to be more flexible and nimble in responding to a growing health crisis.

She said after working with former premier Kathleen Wynne's government on a process that allowed legal sites to open quickly, the Ford government has "thrown the process out the window."

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