A supervised injection site could arrive in Ottawa by the summer

Now that the province has announced its support for a supervised drug injection site in Ottawa, the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre hopes to have one open before this summer if funding negotiations go well.

The health centre estimates it would cost about $1.4 million to run a site annually.

Rob Boyd, the director of the centre's Oasis program, told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning Tuesday the estimate is based on an expansion of the centre's existing services.

The site would be open 12 hours a day, seven days a week, in order to give users access to other forms of help.

The centre still requires a letter from Ottawa police Chief Charles Bordeleau who has expressed some public safety concerns about supervised injection sites.

Boyd said Tuesday he believes the centre's proposal addresses some of Bordeleau's concerns and they hope a letter from the chief will come in the next couple of weeks.

After that, if funding negotiations with the province go well and move quickly, Boyd hopes the centre will have a supervised injection site ready before this summer.

"I think we're very satisfied with what the minister has said at this point, and we will be entering into some negotiations in terms of how this might roll out with our application," he said.

Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins stressed his support for the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre's plans in a letter Monday to federal Health Minister Jane Philpott, as the centre seeks an exemption under the federal Controlled Drugs and Services Act to open the facility.

"It is my opinion that the proposal appears logical and supported by evidence. Furthermore, it aligns with [the province's] strategic plans to address growing concerns with opioid use and misuse," Hoskins wrote.

The downtown community centre has proposed a facility that would provide supervised injections to between 80 and 150 people a day, many of whom already use the centre for other reasons.

On average, 48 people die each year in Ottawa of drug-related causes, the centre has noted in its proposal. According to health unit statistics, the city also has Ontario's highest rates of HIV and Hepatitis C among people who inject drugs.

Source: CBC News Ottawa