Community health supporters set up mock injection site in Ottawa

On the second anniversary of the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision that affirmed the value and benefits of supervised injection services at Insite in Vancouver, community health workers have set up a mock supervised injection site for public viewing in an effort to bring the health crisis among people who use drugs in Ottawa to the attention of the public.

What: Mock supervised injection site and presentation by speakers. Public welcome.
When: Monday September 30th, 2013. 9:30am–12:00pm. Speakers start at 10am.
Where: 216 Murray Street, Ottawa, Ontario

Ottawa has the dubious distinction of having Ontario’s highest rate of new HIV infections among people who use drugs, a death from overdose every ten days and ongoing problems with discarded needs and public disorder in the Byward Market. These challenging community health issues can all be addressed through supervised drug consumption programs.

With the evidence from Vancouver and over 60 other supervised drug consumption programs around the world clearly affirming the benefits of this kind of program, community supporters are stepping up their efforts to establish a program in Ottawa. "Supervised injection sites have been proven to prevent death and disease where ever they have been opened and Ottawa needs to move ahead on this," said Dr. Mark Tyndall, a Physician and Researcher advocating for safe injection services in Ottawa.

"The mock injection site represents a badly needed health service in this community," said Sean LeBlanc, chairperson of the Drug Users Advocacy League. "We wanted to show people what a site could look like, to help alleviate any concerns that may exist."

The need is very real for those living in the neighbourhood as well. "I interact with it every day, on my walk to get groceries or to go to the liquor store," said Ewald Friesen, a resident of the neighbourhood. In his mind, harm reduction and supervised injection sites make sense. "If a project like this is blocked, it’s a bit of an insult to the people who like this neighbourhood and want to stay here and call it home."

The mock site will be available for viewing in the morning of September 30th. Experts will be on hand to provide tours and more information.