As Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government haltsthe opening of three new overdose-prevention sites to review if they “have merit,” experts say the decision could have dire consequences amid an opioid crisis that is killing Canadians in record numbers.
Health Minister Christine Elliot said that sites set to open in Thunder Bay, Ont., St. Catharines, Ont., and Toronto will be put on hold as the government examines “evidence on both sides” of the debate on the facilities’ role in saving lives and getting people into drug treatment programs.
“There is evidence on both sides,” Elliot said during question period Monday. “We need to make sure that we review all of the evidence to understand what is happening. What is happening that is saving lives? What else can we do to save more lives? Are there other examples that we should be looking at besides supervised injection clinics?”
Experts and advocates on the frontlines of the opioid epidemic, however, say there is already an overwhelming body of evidence to show that the overdose-prevention and safe injection sites save lives and help get people into treatment.
Overdose-prevention sites are temporary facilities approved by the province to address an immediate need in a community by providing monitoring for people at risk of an overdose, reducing harm by supplying items such as clean needles, and by facilitating referrals to mental health and substance treatment services.
Supervised consumption sites — also known as safe injection sites — require federal approval. These are permanent facilities that provide safe environments where people can use substances under the supervision of trained staff, offer clean injection supplies and help connect people to health care services, including treatment.
Read more:Â Ontario’s decision to halt new overdose-prevention sites could ‘lead to more death’: experts
First published at http://yourlegalrights.on.ca/news/ontarios-decision-halt-new-overdose-prevention-sites-could-lead-more-death-experts