To the Board of Directors of Centretown Community Health Centre,
We are writing because people who access harm reduction services at Centretown CHC have noticed a change in service delivery.
Examples of changes include:
Closure of the private, easy-to-access harm reduction room, requiring people to ask for bags of harm reduction supplies from the front desk in the public lobby space. This means that people who deserve confidentiality no longer have that option. This confidentiality includes having privacy from other workers at the Centre.
The removal of the designated harm reduction worker. This worker provided services beyond harm reduction like connection to essential resources, including immediate access to health care, housing resources, counselling, addiction resources, etc. that otherwise people would not have received.
Get involved for community health and safety by joining in at our next organizers meeting:
Thursday March 23, 5:30pm at the AIDS Committee of Ottawa accessible meeting space, 19 Main St. (map)
CSCS is a grassroots group of community members who are passionate about creating a healthier Ottawa. If you're interested in getting involved with our campaign to bring supervised injection to Ottawa, please join in!
End the War on Drugs. In the short-term, decriminalize possession of all drugs. In the long term full legalization and regulation of drugs.
Grant immediate exemptions to all supervised injection service (SIS) applicants and/or define them and any future SIS as health services implemented solely by provincial authorities.
Create a specific harm reduction initiative as part of the new Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy, to support, expand and adequately fund harm reduction programs and strategies including explicit funding for the development of drug user-based organizations and advocacy groups.
Remove barriers and increase access to opioid substitution therapy including access to prescription heroin.
Implement harm reduction in prisons : needle exchange programs, increasing access to opioid substitution therapy and continuation after release
TVO's The Agenda hosts an excellent in-depth discussion of the benefits of supervised injection sites and the pressing need in Ottawa & Toronto with Joe Cressy and Dr. Ahmed Bayoumi.
Last July, Toronto approved the establishment of three safe injection sites and now, in an effort to battle opioid overdose deaths, the province has agreed to fund those sites and one in Ottawa. Toronto Councillor Joe Cressy has been a strong advocate for the public health benefits of such facilities. Dr. Bayoumi is the co-author of the 2012 TOSCA report on the harm reduction potential of safe injection sites in Ottawa and Toronto.
This past summer, Ottawa Public Health conducted a public consultation survey on enhanced harm reduction services in Ottawa. Over 2,200 people completed the survey, which was available online and in paper format in English and French. The survey was anonymous, confidential, and voluntary.
Survey results indicated that:
60% of respondents thought that offering harm reduction services in more areas of the city would be beneficial.
66% of respondents thought that longer hours would be beneficial.
62% of respondents thought that having harm reduction dispensing units available would be beneficial.
66% of respondents thought that having supervised injection services available would be beneficial.
When asked for recommendations on how to address community concerns, specifically regarding supervised injection services, the top three recommendations were:
Provide information to the community about the goals and benefits of supervised injection services (61%);
Evaluate services, share results with the community and respond to evaluation results (58%);
Establish a community advisory group to identify and address issues as they emerge (50%).
International Overdose Awareness Day is a global event held on August 31st each year to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death. Join us at the Human Rights Monument on Elgin at 11:30 for the Ottawa event.
Once again Ottawa will join people in over 100 cities around the world that believe “the harms caused by the war on drugs can no longer be ignored.” This is the fourth annual global Support Don’t Punish day of action. Each city takes their own issues and actions under the umbrella of ending the war on drugs across the globe.
In Ottawa this year we will be calling attention to the need for a ‘Good Samaritan Policy’. A Good Samaritan Policy is when there’s a written rule that protects people from drug possession charges when calling and waiting for emergency services in an overdose situation. Too often, when someone overdoses people hesitate or don’t call emergency health services for fear of being charged by police. Let’s legalize supporting our friends in emergency situations.
Have you been involved with the Campaign for Safer Consumption Sites in Ottawa? Or are you interested in becoming more involved? Please fill out our Meeting Accessibility Survey and give us your feedback.