Pubdate: Mon, 14 Mar 2016
Source: Record, The (Kitchener, CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 Metroland Media Group Ltd.
Author: Nicole Thompson
Page: A3


Overdoses kill more than 200 people a year in city, so federal
permission expected to be forthcoming

Toronto is joining the growing list of Canadian cities - including
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 health care 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.

Dr. David McKeown, Toronto's Medical Officer of Health, is scheduled
to host an event Monday, when he'll promote a board of health report
on supervised injection services. He will recommend setting up
safe-injection services at some pre-existing health care 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

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."
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