Pubdate: Tue, 10 Jan 2017
Source: Hamilton Spectator (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The Hamilton Spectator
Author: Allison Jones
Page: A7


Ontario is committing to fund three supervised injection sites in Toronto,
as the city tries to combat rising numbers of overdose deaths amid a
broader opioid crisis.

Toronto city council approved the supervised injection sites at existing
downtown health-care facilities during the summer, and six months later
the province has confirmed its support for the plan, with an estimated
annual cost of $1.6 million and about $400,000 to create the spaces.

Health Minister Eric Hoskins spoke to Mayor John Tory ahead of a meeting
Monday with politicians, public health officials and other stakeholders
discussing how the city can tackle the growing and fentanyl-fuelled opioid

"I believe that community-supported and community-run supervised injection
services will not only save lives, but also must be part of a larger
strategy for harm reduction and supports for people struggling with
addiction," Hoskins said.

Hoskins also wrote to his federal counterpart Jane Philpott in support of
the sites, as Toronto awaits word from Health Canada on its request for a
federal exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

Safe injection sites fit in with Ontario's opioid strategy, which looks to
expand harm-reduction services, make changes to prescribing and dispensing
and improve data collection, Hoskins said. The province is also developing
a framework to respond to similar proposals from other municipalities,
including a facility in Ottawa, he said.

One in eight deaths of Ontarians between the ages of 25 and 34 is related
to opioid use and Toronto has seen a 77-per-cent increase in overdose
deaths in the past decade, rising to 258 in 2014.

"These numbers show the need for urgent action and commitment," Hoskins
wrote to Philpott. "As minister and as a physician, I support
evidence-based policy-making and any initiative around making our
communities safer."

There are about 90 supervised injection sites worldwide, and Vancouver is
the only other city in Canada with the service.

The Coroners Service of British Columbia reported 374 illicit drug
overdose deaths linked to fentanyl between January and Oct. 31 last year.
Alberta reported 193 fentanyl-related deaths between January and September
of last year.

Ontario reported 166 deaths linked to fentanyl in 2015.
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