Mere minutes after a panel of experts recommended safe drug injection sites for Ottawa and Toronto, Ontario’s health minister rejected the idea, claiming “experts continue to be divided by the value of the sites.” The minister, Deb Matthews, didn’t specify which experts she was referring to. The overwhelming majority of those who have published evidence in peer-reviewed journals say the sites save lives, don’t increase crime and are cost effective. The Supreme Court of Canada unanimously prevented the federal government from shutting down a safe injection site in Vancouver last year.
Matthews was joined in her reaction to the recommendation by the mayor and police chief of Ottawa, both of whom rejected the idea outright.
From the Ottawa Citizen:
Mayor Jim Watson said that if extra money is available, it should go to drug rehabilitation and treatment programs.
“It’s better use of tax dollars to put it into these kinds of treatment centres as opposed to safe injection sites,” Watson told reporters.
Ottawa police Chief Charles Bordeleau said the report’s findings have not changed his view that supervised injection sites are undesirable.
“As long as the criminal element is there, we will have issues around the current form of safe injection sites,” Bordeleau told reporters.
Maclean’s Science-ish blogger Julia Belluz looked at the evidence around safe injection in a post last year. Her conclusion: “The evidence we have on Insite is as good as we are ever going to get in demonstrating that this type of program is helpful in managing the harms related to illicit drug use as well as the costs associated with treating related infections.”