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Legislation ignores benefits of safe injection sites, say doctors

A leading infection–control expert is urging public health officials to speak out about the benefits of safe injection sites instead of staying silent about new federal legislation that will make it harder for communities across Canada to establish new locations.

“There’s been a lack of leadership across the board, not just from the federal government,” says Dr. Mark Tyndall, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at The Ottawa Hospital in Ontario.

‘Communities’ include people with addictions

The government continues to oppose effective harm reduction with its ‘Respect for Communities Act,’ writes Dr. Mark Tyndall. Meanwhile, lives are being destroyed.

On Sept. 29, 2011, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) ruled that the federal government could not close down Insite — North America’s only supervised injection facility. The ruling was clear: “applying the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) to Insite was arbitrary, undermining the very purposes of the CDSA, which include public health and safety. It is also grossly disproportionate: the potential denial of health services and the correlative increase in the risk of death and disease to injection drug users outweigh any benefit that might be derived from maintaining an absolute prohibition on possession of illegal drugs on Insite’s premises.”

Proposed federal rules throw up hurdles for supporters of Ottawa drug-injection site

Supporters of an Ottawa supervised injection site say they are disappointed that the federal government is politicizing a health issue with hurdles that would make it harder to open one here. But they remain undeterred in their push to bring one to Ottawa.

“It is the right thing to do. We know that this is an important intervention and we should continue to move ahead,” said Dr. Mark Tyndall, head of infectious diseases at The Ottawa Hospital, and a strong supporter of an Ottawa safe injection site.

Safe drug injection site rules emphasize local input

The federal government says it is giving a voice to local communities with a bill introduced today that lays out criteria for getting permission to open a supervised drug injection site in Canada.

Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq introduced the proposed respect for communities act in the House of Commons and at a press conference she said the proposed rules are in line with a Supreme Court decision in 2011 that allowed Vancouver's InSite clinic to stay open.

Safer sites for drug users not supported by mayor or police chief

Ottawa’s mayor and police chief say they will not support safe injection sites, despite a recent survey showing the majority of Lowertown residents favour the creation of a supervised site for injection drug users.

“This is a health crisis that has been going on for far too long,” says Christopher Dalton, coordinator of the Campaign for Safer Consumption Sites in Ottawa (CSCS), which commissioned the six-question survey in late April.

Proving the Proven: A safe consumption site for Ottawa

"There's a health crisis in Ottawa."

Chris Dalton's pronouncement contains not a trace of drama, but it's hard to reconcile with the city I see at the moment. It's springtime in the national capital, and it's beautiful—the bike paths along the canal and rivers are getting busy, trees are flourishing in greens and reds, and the historical architecture in the core of the city glints beneath the sunlight.

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.

The Campaign for Safer Consumption Sites receives broad support in Lowertown

Volunteers for the Campaign for Safer Consumption Sites in Ottawa (CSCS) went door-to-door in the Byward Market and Lowertown this past weekend to engage with the community, and received broad support for their campaign from residents.

In their first weekend of canvassing in an ongoing campaign, CSCS volunteers consulted with over 100 households. At each home, residents were asked whether they would support the creation of a public health facility where people could use their own drugs under medical supervision.

An overwhelming 78% of those responding said they supported the implementation of a supervised drug consumption site in Ottawa, and 65% said they would welcome such a site in their own neighbourhood.

Proponents of supervised injection site in the capital not ready to throw in the towel

Debate over whether Ottawa should have at least one supervised injection site is far from over.

Proponents are planning a major new proposal by the end of the year.

The subject dominated discussion a recent Board of Health meeting.

The proponents of a supervised injection sites say one of the city’s four pillars to substance misuse is “harm reduction.”

Group asking Ottawa Market residents to support supervised injection site

A group advocating a supervised injection site in the ByWard Market is canvassing the neighbourhood Sunday seeking support from residents.

“This is clearly a health crisis. We’re offering an alternative,” said Campaign for Safer Consumption Sites co-ordinator Chris Dalton.

Ottawans using drugs have high rates of overdose, infection, and rising rates of communicable diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C, he said.

“This is a growing problem and if we don’t stop it soon, then there’s going to be more HIV,” Dalton said.

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