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New law could kill any hope for safe-injection site in Ottawa

The federal government has signalled when the city of Ottawa will be able to open a safe-injection site for intravenous drug users. It’s called never.

Little attention was paid when the House of Commons passed Bill C-2 in late March. Drug addicts are like prison inmates: They make poor lobbyists. The law is called the Respect For Communities Act, one of those Orwellian names — like the Safe Streets Act — cooked up by the short-pants in Mind Control.

The act is a response to the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in 2011 to uphold the existence of Vancouver’s Insite drug clinic because it delivered health benefits without substantial negative effects on the community.

But the new law makes future applications so burdensome, not to mention politically charged, it’s doubtful any would ever be approved.

“Should Bill C-2 become law, it will be extremely difficult to open a supervised injection anywhere in Canada, including in Ottawa,” said Lisa Wright, a PhD candidate and an organizer with the Campaign for Safer Consumption Sites.

Residents rally for changes to national drug policy

As the debate over a safe-injection site in Ottawa rages at the municipal level, the battle for drug policy reform was brought to the federal government’s front door recently when demonstrators from across Canada gathered at Parliament Hill on Sept. 30.

The first annual FED UP! rally was organized by Donna May, founder of Jac’s Voice, a foundation devoted to spreading awareness about addiction and mental illness, named after May’s daughter, who died  two years ago from a disease related to her addiction. 

Drug overdose deaths can be curbed with compassion

Lives can be saved by reducing the stigma around drug overdose and making an overdose-reversing drug more readily available, according to people at a rally in downtown Ottawa Friday.

The rally, held before Sunday’s International Overdose Awareness Day, commemorated 32 people killed by drug overdoses in Ottawa over the last year by laying out 32 pairs of shoes on the Human Rights Monument.

Combatting overdose in the capital

The man’s face was purple. The whites of his eyes stared out, the pupils rolled back into his head. He was sweating profusely, his tongue hanging from his mouth.

When Sean LeBlanc opened the door to the rooming house hallway last summer, it was clear to the former addict what was happening.

“It was an opiate overdose,” he said. “I’d seen it before.”

LeBlanc sprang into action. He grabbed a naloxone kit — a device similar to an EpiPen — and injected the life-saving antidote into his friend’s shoulder.

It took less than 15 seconds for LeBlanc to empty the tiny vial and remove the retractable safety needle.

“Thanks to the naloxone training I could bring him back.”

He’s one of 93 people who have gone through Ottawa Public Health’s Peer Overdose Prevention Program (POPP) — one of the free harm reduction strategies available in the capital. It launched two years ago to coincide with the annual International Overdose Awareness Day, marked in Ottawa Friday at the Human Rights Monument at 11:30 a.m.

Ottawa safe injection site could work—if it overcomes ideology

It’s become something of a tradition in recent years. Yet another study presents evidence supporting supervised injection sites for intravenous drug users, and our elected officials respond with heroic efforts to ignore it.

The latest one from Simon Fraser University, published in Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention and Policy, makes a pocketbook argument for two such facilities in Ottawa and thus might be expected to appeal to our conspicuously frugal mayor.

Another reason to support supervised injection sites - Ottawa Citizen Editorial

To those still unmoved by the proven harm-reduction benefits of supervised drug injection sites, perhaps the conclusion of a new study published in the journal Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention and Policy will have more appeal: the sites could actually save taxpayer dollars. The research provides yet another reason to support a proposed clinic here in Ottawa and others elsewhere.

In his peer-reviewed paper, Simon Fraser University’s Ehsan Jozaghi suggests health-care savings of $5 million — a number associated with the prevention of an estimated nine HIV infections and 88 hepatitis C infections from dirty needles — would more than make up for the $4-million cost of operating two Ottawa clinics. In fact, he argues, the savings would probably be higher because the clinics would also reduce other infection rates and overdose deaths.

'Safe site' backers point to potential tax savings

Advocates of government-sanctioned injection sites for drug users have a new argument for opening such facilities in Ottawa: a potential saving to taxpayers of at least $1 million a year.

The figure appears in a study published this week that compares the estimated cost of operating two medically supervised injection sites with the health care savings of averting nine HIV infections and 88 hepatitis C infections drug users could otherwise get from sharing dirty needles.

Lead researcher Ehsan Jozaghi of Simon Fraser University said in an interview Tuesday that the findings present “strong arguments for having these facilities in Ottawa to prevent HIV and hepatitis C infections, which cost the health care system millions of dollars a year.”

Another study calls for supervised injection sites in Ottawa

Another group of researchers has concluded Ottawa should have supervised injection sites.

A study by researchers at Simon Fraser University published in the online journal Substance Abuse, Treatment, Prevention and Policy says establishing supervised injection sites in Ottawa would be a “fiscally responsible harm reduction strategy” for preventing the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C.

The study compares the cost of running a supervised injection site in Ottawa — researchers put the annual cost at $2.2 million, based on Insite in Vancouver — with treating people through the healthcare system.

Ottawa marks International Drug Users Memorial Day

More than 75 people gathered Monday morning in Lowertown's Cathcart Park to mourn the loss of loved ones who died from overdose and addiction.

Organizer Ryta Peschka said the gathering was to mark International Drug User Memorial Day.

"It was created in the late 1990's in Europe to acknowledge the many deaths of people through either drug or alcohol overdose and as well as the situation around drug laws and policies," she said.

New survey released for Lowertown residents; Focus on safety, security, and supervised injection in neighbourhood

A new online survey being conducted by the Lowertown Community Association is asking residents whether they feel safe in their neighbourhood.

The survey, launched on May 3, is an initiative aimed at helping track concerns and issues in the community.

Norman Moyer, the association's safety and security committee chairman, said the survey would be a way to understand how both residents and visitors to the neighbourhood feel about the Byward Market and Lowertown East.

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