Health officials concerned over Ontario's plans review overdose prevention sites
The Ontario governments decision to put a temporary freeze on any new overdose prevention sites isn’t sitting well with local health care and frontline workers.
“We need to give them options and overdose preventions sites have been proven to show they work,” said Matt Turner who is the harm reduction co-ordinator at the Gilbert Centre.
The Gilbert Centre and the Canadian Mental Health Association have applied to the province to open an overdose prevention site in Barrie.
Ontario's health minister annouced this week the sites in Thunder Bay, St. Catharines and Toronto will be frozen as the province conducts a review of harm-reduction practices and determines if the sites "have merit."
Overdose prevention sites are approved by the province and are temporary facilities set up to address an immediate need in a community.
Safe injection sites are more permanent locations approved by the federal government after a more extensive application process.
Last month, the Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit unveiled its strategy to tackle the opioid crisis. The multi-pronged approach includes an overdose prevention and supervised consumption site in Barrie.
“It’s been well demonstrated that these sites do bring a host of benefits to both individuals and communities,” said Dr. Lisa Simon, the Health Unit’s Associate Medical Officer of Health. “We had 78 opioid-related deaths in 2017 which was a 70 per cent increase from the year prior.”
Health officials are still waiting to hear back about the status of the application.
-With files from The Canadian Press