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Study says safe-injection sites make financial sense for Ontario

Opening five safe-injection sites in Ontario makes financial sense, says a medical researcher who based his study on a Vancouver clinic where drug users shoot up under supervision.

Dr. Ahmed Bayoumi of St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto said establishing facilities such as Insite in that city and in Ottawa would save money and reduce the incidence of diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C.

"Three facilities for Toronto and two for Ottawa represent a good investment compared to other things that we ordinarily invest in in health care," he said in an interview Monday.

The study follows up on earlier research that said safe injection sites in Toronto and Ottawa would improve the health of intravenous drug users. The latest information takes into account new treatments for hepatitis C which, though effective, are also much more expensive.

A typical six-month course of hepatitis C treatment costs about $60,000, Bayoumi said

Prospects brighten for drug injection site in Ottawa

Remember the snarky debate about a safe drug-injection site in Ottawa?

Well, because it’s 2015, because of sunny ways, because a new, shaggy-haired sheriff’s in town, expect to hear more sound and fury on the issue, and real soon.

It was the one topic that spontaneously drew applause at the 12th annual community forum sponsored by the Alliance to End Homelessness Ottawa on Tuesday at the RA Centre.

While the Conservative government of Stephen Harper hated the idea and wanted to shut Canada’s only such site in Vancouver, the Liberals are more welcoming.

“With the new Liberal government, there is definitely an appetite to look at it,” said Rob Boyd, director of Oasis, a drug treatment program run from the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre.

“We’re a lot more optimistic at this point that this is something that can happen.”

Group advocates for safer injection sites in Ottawa

She was a nurse who got hooked on prescription painkillers after a serious car crash, and when she lost the services of her doctor, turned to the streets to feed her addiction.

"That's how I found out about Ottawa's underground," she said, sharing her story (though not her name) for the first time at Wednesday's symposium on supervised injection sites (SIS), hosted at the University of Ottawa.

"If there would have been something like (Vancouver's supervised injection site) Insite at that time, maybe I would have gotten out sooner."

Instead, seven years of her life spiraled out of control, her nursing career crushed under the weight of the criminal record now shadowing her.

Her story was one of many shared by panelists at the community discussion, launched by the Campaign for Safe Consumption Sites in Ottawa on the fourth anniversary of a landmark Supreme Court ruling that advocates cite as proof of Insite's "positive impact on the surrounding community and (as) a cost-saving measure."

Nurses want supervised injection sites to be an election issue this fall

Ottawa nursing professor Marilou Gagnon recently started a grassroots coalition called Nurses for Supervised Injection Sites. Gagnon says the sites aren’t just places for people to inject drugs in a safer environment – it’s a place to get educated, and a way to link a marginalized group with treatment and health services. It can also save lives, by reducing overdoses and testing for diseases.

Ottawa Overdose Awareness Day rally 2015

Coverage of Overdose Awareness Day in Ottawa on CBC.

Jennifer Bigelow shared her own personal story of drug use and overdose with CBC's Omar Dabaghi-Pacheco. In the extended interview below, she calls on politicians to stop playing games with people's lives and open supervised consumption services in Ottawa.

Advocates for overdose prevention rally at Ottawa city hall

Drug users, recovering addicts and sober allies demanded local supervised safe injection sites and more access to naloxone — a substance that works as an antidote to overdose — during a rally on International Overdose Awareness Day Monday.

A group of about 50 people protested at the annual event, organized by the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre and held at the Human Rights Memorial by city hall on Elgin Street. Set on the monument were 45 pairs of shoes, each a testament to one of the lives lost to drug overdoses in Ottawa last year.

A mile in 45 pairs of shoes: Rally honours victims of drug overdose

Crowd calls for supervised injection site, more access to overdose antidote naloxone after Ottawa paramedics responded to 2,600 calls for overdoses last year.

It took three overdoses before Jennifer Bigelow got the help she needed.

A drug addict of 31 years, Bigelow started sniffing lines at 16, then turned to sex work to feed her drive for crack and needles. She woke up from that third scary overdose to her best friend breathing life into her body.

Overdoses killing dozens in Ottawa, activists say

Forty-five pairs of shoes lined the Human Rights Monument on Elgin Street on Monday, representing the estimated number of people who died from drug overdoses in Ottawa last year.

In accordance with International Overdose Awareness Day, members of Campaign for Safer Consumption Sites and Drug Users Advocacy League called for supervised injection sites in Ottawa to prevent drug overdoses and to challenge what they say is the stigma faced by drug users.

Call renewed for safe injection sites in Ottawa

The call for a safe injection site for drug users in Ottawa was renewed Monday.

It's International Overdose Awareness Day and members of the Campaign for Safer Consumption Sites and Drug Users Advocacy League gathered at the Human Rights Monument to raise awareness about the issue.

Set on the monument were 45 pairs of shoes, one pair to represent each of the people who were estimated to have died from an overdose in Ottawa last year.

Ottawa paramedic Paul Morneau said that number just begins to scratch the surface.

Nurses push for injection site support on campaign trail

A coalition of nurses and nursing students is hoping to put injection sites on the agenda during the federal election campaign.

The group called Nurses for Supervised Injection Services is encouraging others to vote for parties that support the creation of more sites throughout Canada.

The Conservative Party, which has fought Canada’s only supervised injection site for drug users in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, is the only one of the major parties that does not support the expansion of such sites. The Conservative government passed a law that supporters of the sites say creates barriers for communities opening injection sites similar to Vancouver’s.

Marilou Gagnon, an associate professor of nursing at the University of Ottawa, said nurses are generally supportive of supervised injection services because they “really understand why they are important and should be implemented.” There are more than 280,000 registered nurses in Canada.

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