The Campaign for Safer Consumption Sites in Ottawa was formed in response to an ongoing health crisis.
Ottawa has Ontario’s highest rate of new HIV infection among injection drug users. 11% of people who inject drugs in Ottawa are infected with HIV, while 60% have contracted hepatitis C. Someone dies of drug overdose every 10 days in our city — deaths that could be prevented with timely medical intervention.
Supervised consumption sites are public health facilities that offer a safe, hygienic place where people can use their own drugs under medical supervision.
Canada’s first supervised injection site, Insite, has been operating since 2003 in downtown Vancouver. The evidence from Insite – and from over 90 such sites around the world – proves that supervised consumption sites reduce the spread of diseases such as HIV, prevent overdose deaths, and improve access to addiction treatment programs. They have also been shown to encourage cleaner, safer streets by reducing public drug use and drug equipment litter.
Opening supervised drug consumption sites in Ottawa would:
Reduce the spread of HIV and hepatitis-C by providing sterile equipment and safe disposal for used needles
Prevent deaths caused by overdose
Decrease public drug use and drug-equipment litter
Provide access to health and social services, such as first aid treatment and addiction recovery programs
Sign the petition to show your support for supervised drug consumption services in Ottawa.
Recently, there's been a lot of discussion about supervised consumption sites in Ottawa. It's important to separate the FACTS from the MYTHS.
FACT: IF A SUPERVISED CONSUMPTION SITE OPENED IN OTTAWA, POLICE WOULD RETAIN FULL POWERS TO ENFORCE ALL LAWS THROUGHOUT THE COMMUNITY.
Only the inside of the supervised consumption site itself would be exempt from drug possession laws.
Ottawa Police Superintendent Tyrus Cameron dismissed the myth of restricted police enforcement around a potential supervised consumption site during a Lowertown Community Association meeting:
“There is no such thing as a 'No-go zone'. The Ottawa Police will enforce the Criminal Code everywhere in Ottawa. The community expects us to, so we will.” - Superintendent Cameron, Ottawa Police, Oct. 21 2013
In an article published by the Ottawa Sun, Inspector Scott Thompson of the Vancouver Police Department spoke about policing policy around Insite, Vancouver's supervised injection site:
There is no 'bubble zone'. The force “recommended” that officers direct users found injecting within a four-block radius to Insite to avoid future brushes with the law but they had “full discretion” to lay charges and seize drugs. - Ottawa Sun Interview with Insp. Thompson, VPD, Sept. 28 2013
Hedy Fry, MP for Vancouver Centre and Liberal Health Critic, sent this response to our letter calling on the health minister to take action to support the health of people who use drugs. Thank you Hedy for opposing the Conservative government's attempt to undermine the Supreme Court and hinder the creation of services like Insite in cities across Canada. People who live in Vancouver know how important Insite is to the health and safety of their community!
Thank you for your letter concerning Bill C-65, an Act to Amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, now Bill C-2. The first act of the Conservative government in this session was to reintroduce the “Respect for Communities Act”, which should be more appropriately named the “banning of safe injection sites bill” because of its negative impact on accessing safe injection sites for some of Canada’s most vulnerable citizens.. The Conservative government is acting on ideology rather than evidence.
The Bill exceeds the 2011 Supreme Court of Canada ruling regarding InSite, going well beyond the factors to be considered when granting an exemption of S.56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Bill C-2 raises the criteria to establish a supervised injection site to such an extraordinarily high level that it would be nearly impossible for any future supervised consumption sites to be established in Canada. The Supreme Court ruling, keeping InSite open, was based on proof that InSite saved lives, citing Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedom:, “life, liberty and security of the person”.
Furthermore, only an hour after the legislation was initially introduced, Conservative campaign director Jenni Byrne issued a crass and misleading fundraising letter to supporters stating that the Liberals and NDP want addicts to shoot up heroin in the backyards of communities all across the country. From this, it is clear that the intention of the Conservative government is to fundraise on the backs of some of the most vulnerable people in Canada, those with addictions and mental illness. Addiction is a disease that must be addressed primarily by clinical and public health guidelines.
As a physician, I support evidence-based policies that reduce harm, promote public health and protect public safety. I believe that supervised consumption sites form an integral component of such policies.
On online survey conducted by the Ottawa Sun has found that a majority of respondents believe that Ottawa should have a supervised injection site for people who use drugs.
The survey, which was published on the daily newspaper's website from September 30 to October 5, 2013, posed 9 questions on readers' opinions toward supervised injection services and their effects on the community.
Of the 1,794 people who responded, 56% indicated that Ottawa should open a site, while 51% said that they would accept a site in their own neighbourhood. 58% said that they believed such a site would either not impact or increase the safety and well-being of the surrounding area. (Full results here.)
Dr. Mark Tyndall, Head of Infectious Diseases at the Ottawa Hospital, speaks out for supervised injection sites in Ottawa at an event to mark the second anniversary of the Supreme Court decision on Insite.
A compelling call to action for a proven medical service that would improve the health of people who use drugs, and benefit the entire community.