Pubdate: Mon, 21 Aug 2017
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Antonella Artuso
Page: 6


Toronto's first safe drug site set to open

Toronto's first official interim safe injection site is set to open as
early as Monday in the Yonge-Dundas Sts. area.

The site is a precursor to three permanent Toronto sites, and is being
fast-tracked following a rise in drug overdose deaths throughout the

Health Canada said Sunday in a news release that Toronto's application
for an interim injection site was approved after passing required

Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto's Medical Officer of Health, explains
what clients and the public can expect.

Why was the Yonge-Dundas site chosen?

"It is the location for which Health Canada has provided an exemption
in order to allow for that supervised injection service to happen...
Health Canada was willing to effectively extend that exemption for the
purposes of the interim supervised injection services."

The site is located in a downtown tourist location. Is this a site
that those who want to inject drugs can conveniently use?

"There was a study done to understand which locations would actually
make sense in order to establish these kinds of services."

Concerns have been raised about drug dealers hanging out in the area
of these sites. Has that possible issue been addressed?

"We had community consultations in respect of supervised injection
services for all three sites that are in development and soon to be
implemented in the city. And part of that community consultation is
making sure that neighbours and those in the community understand what
the nature of the service is and what they might expect ... There's
been quite a bit of experience with this sort of service in Vancouver
- - they certainly have more experience than we do given that we're just
about to launch services in this city this fall - but what I can tell
you from the Vancouver experience is they have not seen that kind of
problem that you described in their environment."

What is the public health advantage of offering this

"We know that using drugs alone is a major risk factor ... for
overdose ... and death-associated or fatal overdose. So providing a
safe environment mitigates that risk of both overdose and fatal

overdose. And further, it also provides an opportunity for connection
to a wide variety of other services that includes such things as detox
and drug treatment and other city services."

What will be at the site to support people who are injecting

"Right now, we expect that there will be nursing staff and there may
be other sort of counselling staff or peer staff as required, but for
sure there'll be nursing staff to provide supervision."

Is there anything in the way of addiction counselling or similar
options offered to clients?

"That's part of a supervised injection service and a whole harm
reduction philosophy - one is that it provides a safe environment to
mitigate the immediate harm associated with drug use ... but the
longer-term strategy for sure would be to approach clients and users
of drugs to say there are other options available ... In a supervised
injection service, you don't provide detox or treatment for addiction
but we can certainly make those referrals to those services, because
those are separate services."

How do people physically access the space?

"It's on the main floor. It's as easily accessible to the front
entrance as humanly possible. So it's main floor, easy access."

How much space is allocated to this?

"When we're talking about the interim supervised injection site, the
way it looks right now is that we figure it can be up to three
(injecting) at the same time, using at the same time?"
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