Ottawa Police Chief Bordeleau: safe injection site decision not up to police

Any decision on whether Ottawa should have a safe injection and inhalation site for drug users is up to the community, not the police, according to Chief Charles Bordeleau.

Bordeleau said Wednesday his position on the sites has not changed: he would prefer to invest resources on treatment, rather than harm reduction.

“I don’t envy anybody being an addict and being reliant on drugs,” Bordeleau said. “But I think those who are, we’re better off investing (resources) on the treatment end of it to deal with their habit.”

Campaign for Safer Consumption Sites Ottawa, a volunteer advocacy group made up of outreach workers, health advocates and community organizers, has been canvassing residents about their thoughts on safe injection sites, such as Vancouver’s Insite.

CSCS’s Chris Dalton said Ottawa has a serious health issue in the transmission of HIV, Hepatitis C, and other diseases amongst drug users. Insite’s model, Dalton said, is a proven way of combating the transmission of those diseases.

“(They) reduce HIV, reduce overdose deaths, reduce drug litter in the streets,” said Dalton. “These are things that I think resonate well with most people in Ottawa, and I think that people in Ottawa do care and they do want to help other people.”

CSCS points to a 2012 study from St. Michael’s Hospital and the University of Toronto that found one in 10 intravenous drug users in Ottawa have HIV, while more than half have Hepatitis C.

The group hopes to start a public conversation about how to deal with these issues. Bordeleau, for his part, says any discussion of the “root causes” of addiction and how best to treat those dependent to drugs is productive.

“It’s a broader community discussion that needs to take place, and something that’s meaningful,” Bordeleau said.

Diane Holmes, the councillor responsible for Ottawa’s Board of Health, could not be reached for comment.

By Alex Boutilier
Source: Metro News Ottawa