Pubdate: Tue, 10 Jan 2017
Source: Ottawa Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Jon Willing
Page: 3


Top doc supports local drug program

Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins supports the Sandy Hill Community
Health Centre's request for a supervised injection site and says there
will be provincial money available to help set it up.

Hoskins sent a letter Monday to federal Health Minister Jane Philpott,
saying the Sandy Hill health centre's proposal "appears logical and
supported by evidence."

"Given the importance of this issue, we are also developing a provincial
framework in order to respond to the safe injection site proposals from
Toronto and Ottawa, as well as other municipalities or other applicants
that may request similar programs for their cities in the future and will
provide full details within the next few weeks," Hoskins said in a written
statement released by his office.

That's a big boost for the Sandy Hill health centre, which wants to open
an injection site at its Nelson Street facility. The health centre needs a
federal exemption to allow drugs at the site and plans to submit an
application this month, if its board approves the initiative on Jan. 18.

The province isn't saying yet how much money it would provide safe
injection sites.

The Sandy Hill health centre says it wants $1.4 million annually from the
province to run the injection site.

David Gibson, executive director of the health centre, said he's pleased
with Hoskins's response to the centre's application.

In his letter to Philpott, Hoskins says, "More can be done to tackle the
opioid issue at the community level," and he notes the work the Sandy Hill
health centre is doing in Ottawa.

"The Sandy Hill CHC's proposal to add (a supervised injection site) to its
services will complement its current continuum of harm reduction
programs," Hoskins says in his letter.

While the Sandy Hill health centre is close to sending an application to
the federal government for a supervised injection site, other health
agencies in Ottawa have also indicated they are interested in opening
similar injection programs.

The City of Ottawa is letting its public health board speak for the
municipality on the issue of supervised injection sites. The health board
voted last year to support efforts to establish injection sites in Ottawa.

The issue is unlikely to be up for debate at council, at least in the
short term, since the city is deferring to the authority of Ottawa Public

Mayor Jim Watson has been skeptical of launching supervised injection
sites in Ottawa, but supporters of the facilities say they would reduce
overdose deaths and virus transmissions.

The City of Toronto on Monday also received good news from Hoskins, who
threw his support behind a separate plan to open three supervised
injection sites in that city.
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