Pubdate: Fri, 04 Aug 2017
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Shawn Jeffords
Page: 5


City responds to OD spike

The city will accelerate the opening of three supervised injection
sites to address the recent surge in overdose deaths across Toronto.

It's just one of a number of measures Mayor John Tory and a group of
health officials and first responders will pursue immediately in the
wake of the overdose spike. In a statement released after an emergency
meeting of the group Thursday, Tory called the deaths an "unimaginable

"Today, I asked our first responders to ensure we are doing everything
as fast as possible to implement Toronto's Overdose Action Plan," he

Last summer, council gave the OK to safe injection sites operating at
The Works, located at Yonge and Dundas Sts.; the Queen West-Central
Toronto Community Health Centre in the QueenBathurst Sts. area; and
South Riverdale Community Health Centre, Queen and Carlaw Sts.

The sites were set to open by mid-fall but the plan has changed with
this latest rash of overdose, said councillor Joe Cressy, Chair of
Toronto Drug Strategy Implementation Panel.

"Construction is underway, permits are done, we're doing staff hiring
and training," he said. "The plan had been to open these up on
mid-fall. We are now directing the operators to expedite the opening
of those sites ... (to) as soon as possible."

The group also agreed to explore the bulk purchase of naloxone, a drug
which can reverse opioid overdoses. It will also ask the Toronto
Police to consider targeted distribution of the overdose antidote in
high-risk divisions, such as downtown.

Hundreds of city employees, from transit workers to community housing
officials, are being trained to recognize the signs of overdose and to
administer naloxone.

"We have an overdose action plan, it's in place, we're looking to
scale up that work," Cressy said.

Cressy said the city is also coordinating with music festival and
venue operators where there is "significant risk" of overdoses to help
provide EMS personal and naloxone. At this weekend's VELD music
festival in Downsview Park, paramedics will be on-hand with training
in how to administer naloxone, he said.

In 2014, two festival-goers died after they overdosed on drugs they
brought to the event. Thirteen others got sick as a result of the drugs.

"The escalating overdose crisis is deeply disturbing and shocking but
these deaths are preventable," Cressy said. "The core message here is
that the city recognizes that with more work we can save more lives
and that's what we're going to do."
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