Toronto Board of Health to recommend safe-injection sites

A report to be revealed on Monday is expected to announce safe-injection sites at select pre-existing health facilities


 
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Sammy Mullally

TORONTO – Toronto is joining the growing list of Canadian cities — which includes Ottawa and Montreal — that plan to set up safe-injection sites.

Safe-injection sites provide a place for people to take illicitly-obtained drugs, while supervised by nurses or other healthcare staff in order to prevent overdoses. They typically also provide sterile injection equipment.

As it stands, there are more than 90 safe-injection sites worldwide, but only two legal sites in Canada, both in Vancouver. According to local media reports, Toronto’s top health official is planning on following suit, opening “multiple” facilities, also called supervised-injection or supervised-consumption sites.

Related: The science is in. InSite works.

Dr. David McKeown, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, is scheduled to host an event Monday, where he’ll promote a Board of Health report on supervised injection services. The Globe and Mail and The Toronto Star say the report will recommend setting up safe-injection services at some pre-existing healthcare facilities.

The latest available data, from 2013, shows that Toronto’s rate of fatal overdoses is increasing. That year there was an all-time high of 206 overdose deaths.

And a growing body of research suggests that these sites have other social and health benefits. Dr. Ahmed Bayoumi, a doctor at a downtown Toronto hospital and expert in health services for drug users, said those benefits include fewer HIV and hepatitis C infections, because the provided needles would be unused.

He added that public safety and social benefits include less public litter of needles, and “potentially less crime, because people inject indoors instead of on the street.”

“I think that Toronto would benefit from supervised-injection services, and this is a very good next step in the process of establishing those,” he said.

Establishing supervised-injection sites isn’t a simple process. Due to legislation introduced last year, cities that wish to introduce those services need express permission from the federal health minister.

Joe Cressy, a city councillor and chair of the city’s drug strategy implementation panel, said he doesn’t think that will be a problem.

“The new federal government has publicly stated over and over and over again that they support supervised injection services as a form of evidence-based health policy,” he said. “The previous Conservative government did not support these measures, but the new federal government does. And that’s a good thing.”

The report, released Monday, will be considered at a Board of Health meeting next week.

safe-injection-sites


 

Toronto Board of Health to recommend safe-injection sites

  1. What is the world coming too??? It sounds like Dr. David McKeown is doing drugs to think this will work. The problem is that the these individuals are drug addicts and they are doing drugs. It is the drugs that are killing then, not that they have a place to do the drugs.. All you are doing is enabling then and helping them take the drugs. is Dr. David McKeown showing them how to be a more effective drug addict? Is he teaching them how to shoot up properly?

    What’s next, providing better quality drugs, because the drugs on the street are poor quality, have impurities and dangerous for these people. What happened to taking responsibility for one actions. This program just says, “doing drugs is OK and hey, we are going to help you. We will provide you the needles, give you a place to do it and provide someone to watch over you.” You might as well stick the needle in their arm.

    Maybe an over simplified solution, TRY TO GET THEM OFF THE DRUG or GET THEM INTO REHAB.

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