Students to rally for supervised injection site in Ottawa

A group of Algonquin College students is organizing a rally on Parliament Hill to promote supervised injection sites.

Sam Porghavami, a second-year social service worker student, said it’s a “no-brainer” for Ottawa to have a supervised injection site.

The students are partnering with the Campaign for Safer Consumption Sites (CSCS) in Ottawa to raise awareness and pressure city councillors to bring in a clean and acceptable place for people to use drugs under the supervision of medical staff.

“It’s for mostly homeless people and the hardcore addicts,” said Porghavami. “It’s just trying to relieve some of their misery, really. It also puts them in touch with social workers and nurses. That’s the most important part.”

According to CSCS, one in 10 injection drug users are infected with HIV and six in 10 have contracted hepatitis C. The group claims a supervised injection site would prevent deaths and reduce the spread of these diseases.

But Dr. Mark Ujjainwalla, a physician who recently opened Recovery Ottawa, a methadone clinic in Vanier, said the students are “wasting their time” trying to get a supervised injection site underway.

“These people are treating infectious disease and that’s not really the bigger problem,” he said. “The bigger problem is addiction and if you’re not going to treat addiction, then you’re wasting your time. It’s just a Band-Aid.”

Dr. Ujjainwalla said he has seen about 450 patients at his drug addiction clinic since it opened in November. About two or three of them are HIV-positive and the vast majority has hepatitis C, he said.

Vancouver opened Canada’s first supervised injection site in 2003.

The rally will be March 23 on Parliament Hill at 1 p.m.

By Lucy Scholey
Source: Metro News