Pubdate: Tue, 21 Nov 2017
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Sue-Ann Levy
Page: 6


Users fed their poisons - but safely - in public park

It's the perfect setup for hard-core addicts.

There's a special tent for crack smokers.

There's another tent to provide safe injections of illegal drugs like
heroin, fentanyl and opiates and handouts of Naloxone (an antidote for
opioid overdoses) - the tent now winterized with the generous
assistance of the health ministry.

Overseeing the "military-grade equipment" that provides heating and
lighting are two staff with the ministry's emergency medical
assistance team (EMAT). Cost is unknown at this point because the
"deployment is ongoing," says Laura Gallant, spokesman for Health
Minister Eric Hoskins.

Ministry contractors also provide 24/7 security - not for those adults
and children who might want to use the public park - but to protect
the "assets on site," says Gallant.

On Monday afternoon, CUPE Ontario - feeding into the hug-a-drug-addict
mentality - also announced it was donating a winterized trailer to the
trailer to keep the volunteers warm. Agh.

Let's not forget in the midst of all the hyperbole about people dying
on the streets, this is a public park used by families in what is
becoming slowly a gentrified area of spanking-new condos.

When photographer Stan Behal and I recently arrived 15 minutes before
the 4 p.m. opening time, we were given a quick tour as the makeshift
tents and supplies were set up and then politely but firmly asked to
leave the public park before the clients arrived. (They're open daily
from 4 p.m.-10 p.m.)

Sarah Ovens, a social worker by day and volunteer with the Moss Park
Overdose Prevention site by evening, said they're seeing between 30-40
clients in their injection tent and about 30-60 per day in their
"smoking facility." Many are homeless or come from the nearby
shelters, she said.

They also distribute supplies - clean needle, crack smoking and
Naloxone kits - to "hundreds" daily.

"I think we've been hugely successful," she said, contending they've
reversed 94 overdoses in 95 days.

"We've supervised over 2,000 injections ...we're able to keep them
safe and keep them alive," Ovens added.

She said they plan to be there as long as junkies require their
attention or until they are able to move the site into the
neighbouring Fred Victor Centre - which would be funded to the tune of
$500,000 by the health ministry.

As noted, these are all volunteers who already have day jobs. Aside
from the health ministry EMAT team assistance, they get no government
money, having raised their funding online through donations.

But the problem with this whole operation is that, like it or not,
trendy harm-reduction efforts essentially keep addicts alive by
continuing to feed them their poisons, but safely.

I will no doubt be attacked - as I have been in the past - for
suggesting that it is not only enabling illegal drug use but an entire
industry is slowly but surely thriving. Those now part of the harm
reduction industry, like the homeless industry, do not really want
addicts to get off the street because it would mean no work for them.

When I asked Ovens whether they talk to the clients about
rehabilitation and getting off illegal drugs, she said somewhat
abruptly: "We have all kinds of conversations with people ... we talk
about all sorts of things with them."

She said sometimes people are interested in learning about detox
facilities and she, given her experience, can help them navigate those
resources. But she left the impression that happens only if addicts

Mayor John Tory, who has permitted the illegal site to continue since
August - even three legal ones will be open this month - contended his
key focus is on "saving lives" which can then be rebuilt.

"These sites alone will not solve the drug problem, in particular.
Dramatically increased provincial investment is needed in a drug
treatment program ... which are far too few in number," he said.

Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, who is vehemently against harm
reduction, said Monday it is never safe to encourage people to take

"We're on the verge of experiencing something we've never seen
before," he said. "The amount of government money being spent
encouraging people to take drugs-instead of trying to get them off
drugs - is unprecedented."
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MAP posted-by: Matt