'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.

Municipal election lobbying campaign

The Campaign for Safer Consumption Sites in Ottawa is looking for your help to lobby candidates in the upcoming Ottawa municipal election. 

In the next few weeks organizers will be finalizing lobby kits for distribution to candidates in each riding. Our goal is to ensure that candidates are educated on the evidence in support of harm reduction practices and the need for safer consumption sites in the city of Ottawa.

This is a great and easy opportunity to stay involved in the fight for safe consumption in Ottawa! Here's how:

1. Send your full name, email address, and riding name to info@cscsottawa.ca. If you do not know your riding please find it here. CSCS organizers will keep track of people who wish to lobby the candidates in their riding in order to distribute the kits, record meeting results, and keep everyone updated on upcoming events that CSCS members would like to have a presence at leading up to the election on Oct. 27, 2014;

2. Keep us posted on the results of your contact with candidates. This way we can track who we've contacted, what the results were, and who might be potential allies following the election. 

Study finds supervised injection sites in Ottawa to be a fiscally responsible harm reduction strategy

A new study has found that supervised injection sites are a fiscally responsible strategy for reducing the spread of HIV and hepatitis C in Ottawa.

The report from researchers at Simon Fraser University recommends the establishment of two supervised injection facilities (SIFs) as an "efficient and effective use of financial resources in the public health domain."

According to the report, these facilities would avert 9 HIV infections and 88 hepatitis C infections each year in Ottawa. This would result in public health care savings of nearly $5 million. The cost of operating the two sites is estimated at $4 million.

The peer-reviewed study is published in Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention and Policy.

"The local health officials, not the federal or provincial government, should make decisions regarding opening SIFs, based on the positive impact of SIFs in reducing injections in public, while lowering the overdose fatalities and infectious diseases," reads the report.

In reviewing the evidence from Insite, Canada's first supervised injection site in Vancouver, the study concludes that the facility has not increased crime, drug dealing, public injection, or public syringe disposal in the community.

The report echoes recommendations from a 2012 University of Toronto study, which also advised the creation of two supervised injection sites in Ottawa to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. The Supervised Consumption Assessment Study found that Ottawa has Ontario's highest rate of new HIV infection amongst injection drug users.

Centretown Harm Reduction Meet & Greet

Centretown Harm Reduction Meet and Greet - July 29 2014

On Tuesday July 29 at 1:30, join Centretown CHC for a harm reduction meet and greet in Dundonald Park. Have a snack, play some games, make some art, and meet other people who live in the community. We'll see you there!

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.

First International Harm Reduction Day

On May 7th, 2014, the Campaign for Safer Consumption Sites joins in the celebration of the first International Harm Reduction Day. International Harm Reduction Day is a day to promote evidence-based public health policies and practices and access to these services as a human right. Health services, including a wide variety of harm reduction services, are still not easily accessible throughout the world. To mark International Harm Reduction Day, we bring attention to the need for more accessible harm reduction services worldwide, and to Ottawa’s needs in particular. 

Injection site supporters demand Ottawa Public Health take a stand on Ottawa clinic

Sean Leblanc survived his opiate addiction "by the skin of my teeth," and he's seen too many friends fall victim to their own personal demons to stand idly by.

"Many of us here have lost friends and family members, people we love and respect, and I think we as a country and a community can do better," said Leblanc, chair of the Drug Users Advocacy League, leading a rally on Parliament Hill Sunday to voice support for bringing supervised injection sites to Ottawa.

"I know from having been there, people don't want to be sticking a needle in their arm every day, and we need to be providing the support and love and services and basic access to care so that they can make positive changes in their lives."

Supporters of supervised injection site rally on Parliament Hill

People calling for a supervised injection site in Ottawa brought their message to Parliament Hill Sunday afternoon.

They rallied in support of a clean and safe centre for drug-users in the Capital, a place they say can reduce the spread of disease and prevent deadly overdoses.

"Just to have a warm, clean place available, clean needles to use...people will be able to inject in areas that are much safer for them," said Dr. Mark Tyndall, head of Infectious Disease at the Ottawa Hospital.

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