Pubdate: Fri, 15 Jul 2016
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 The Toronto Star
Author: Betsy Powell
Page: GT4


Planned supervised locations for intravenous drug users could be
operational in 2017

Toronto city council has given its resounding support to the opening
of three supervised injection sites for intravenous drug users.

On Thursday, council voted 36-3 to back Board of Health
recommendations to move forward with the proposed sites in existing
community health centres on Queen St. W., near Yonge and Dundas Sts.,
and in Leslieville.

"Supervised injection services are not the magic bullet," said
Councillor Joe Cressy, (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina) who chairs the
Toronto Drug Strategy Implementation Panel and stickhandled the file.

"They will not prevent every single unnecessary loss of life due to
fatal overdose. But they are part of a comprehensive approach to drug
use and drug policy: treatment, prevention, harm reduction and yes,
enforcement, taken together."

The sites will now apply for federal drug-law exemptions, in order to
offer the services with trained medical staff. Cressy said if the
application process goes according to plan, the sites could be open
next year.

Mayor John Tory, who acknowledged earlier "discomfort" with the
concept, said he is now convinced the sites are the "right . . . (and)
moral thing to do . . . to make a positive difference and save lives."

Tory said he hopes senior levels of government will allocate more
resources to "help people get off drugs." In the meantime, people are
"needlessly dying alone."

Councillor Paula Fletcher praised residents in her Ward 30
(Toronto-Danforth) for wanting a site in their backyard. As she spoke,
the screen inside the council chamber showed a video of the late
Brooklyn McNeil advocating for safe injection sites at the health
board in March.

"The time has come for Toronto to be a pioneer for safe injection
services," Fletcher told council. "Let's get on with the business of
saving lives and I'm doing this for Brooklyn," who died of an overdose
on June 22.

Councillors Giorgio Mammoliti, Christin Carmichael Greb and Stephen
Holyday voted against the sites. Holyday (Ward 3, Etobicoke Centre)
said afterward he was not swayed by the board of health endorsement
nor any arguments presented in the council chamber.

"Using drugs is illegal and I don't know why we set up a facility
where we allow that to happen under our supervision," said Holyday,
adding, "in some ways it's an enabler."
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