Researchers hit Ottawa streets to interview addicts

A research team has quietly taken to the streets to survey Ottawa drug users.

It’s part of an effort, by Participatory Research in Ottawa Understanding Drugs, to create a profile of the situation in the capital.

Volunteers are reaching out to hard drug users in the most vulnerable situations, many of whom regularly use IV drugs.

Over the past several months, they’ve interviewed more than 400 addicts on a range of topics, including drug use, homelessness, education and supervised injection sites.

Safe injection site close to reality in Ottawa

The push for Ottawa to get a controversial supervised injection site is gaining speed.

The Sandy Hill Community Health Centre on Wednesday said they are working to submit an application for an exemption from federal drug laws in order to open a "safer consumption site."

"We think we could do more for people in the community and drug users themselves," said Rob Boyd, director of the Oasis program at the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre.

"We feel it's important to move forward."

The courage to offer hope and new opportunity

Comments on the Supervised Injection Services in Toronto Report
Submission to members of the Toronto Board of Health
by David B. Gibson, Executive Director, on behalf of the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre.

I have travelled from Ottawa to be here before you because I have finally heard publically for the first time in this Province, the courage of a Public Health Organization to challenge what I call - the Politics of Harm – the silence of indifference, moral indignation, fear, ignorance, misinformation and outright discrimination of a small minority of people who live in our communities.

For much too long in this country, I have witnessed political ideology and expediency dismissing the available scientific evidence that over 90 sites around the world have been sharing for decades - that supervised injection services work as part of a continuum of health and well-being services.Time and time again we hear public officials who oppose supervised injection services on public health or safety grounds, make assertions that supervised injection services have a negative impact on the communities in which they operate.

They have been doing so it seems with impunity and yet they make these public statements without any evidence to support their assertions. Just saying no is not good enough anymore – not when people’s lives are at stake.

Instead of the Politics of Harm why can’t we reframe the discussions to the politics of hope and opportunity – where saving lives is more important than fixating on just one service intervention, namely, supervised injection services.

Harm reduction advocates urge Ottawa Public Health to take action

Toronto Public Health has recently come forward calling for a supervised injection site in their city, as well as publicly speaking out against Bill C-65. Bill C-65 is the proposed legislation putting further barriers towards opening more sites across Canada. Toronto Public Health clearly sees that their community is suffering due to inadequate service for their population of people who use drugs.

Ottawa Public Health has long been an advocate for community health. OPH describes its role as advocating for “public policies that make our city and its residents healthier”, however their voice has been notably absent in the recent discussion of the health of people that use drugs. Ottawa needs OPH to be at the forefront of the push for safer consumption sites.

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.

Take action for Insite in Ottawa

Take action for Insite in Ottawa

We're looking for volunteers to help out with our summer outreach campaign!

Following our success speaking with ByWard Market residents about supervised consumption sites, we're ready to canvass businesses in the area for their support. The canvassing would involve approaching business owners to engage in a guided, short conversation about the work CSCS does, and attitudes towards a safer drug consumption site in Ottawa.

To take part, please fill out your availability during the week of July 16-19 below. We'll contact businesses in the Market and ask when is a good time to stop by for a chat about community health, and then we'll assign you some businesses to visit.

No experience needed to take part in the canvassing. You will be provided with training so that you can feel prepared and confident in your unique canvassing skills.

Sign up now!

‘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.”

June 13th rally at the Supreme Court of Canada: Sex Workers we support you!

This Thursday June 13th, the Campaign for Safer Consumption Sites in Ottawa will be standing in solidarity with sex workers demanding the decriminalization of their lives and work here in our communities, in all of Canada and globally. This rally is taking place in light of the Supreme Court of Canada Judges hearing the case of Bedford v Canada (the trial regarding Canada’s laws on sex work).

Linking Struggles: Dave Diewert on the fight for Insite

Join CSCS and allies to an informal discussion and Q&A with Dave Diewert, a Downtown Eastside ally and organizer. Learn about the struggle to open Insite and share ideas for the campaign to open a supervised drug consumption site in Ottawa.

When: Saturday, June 15th at 5:00 PM
Where: Dundonald Park (across from the Beer Store on Somerset at Lyon)
RSVP on Facebook

Conservative government threatens community health and safety with Bill C-65

Our friends at AIDS Action Now! posted a powerful response to the announcement by Minister Aglukkaq of new rules being proposed by the government to restrict the opening of supervised consumption sites in Canada:

In 2011, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the Minster of Health Leona Aglukkaq actively violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by trying to shut down Vancouver’s supervised consumption service Insite. Despite this ruling, the Minster is at it again. Today Aglukkaq launched Bill C-65 known as the “Respect for Communities Act”. Despite the semantic public relations games being played with its name, the act itself does nothing but attack, degrade and violate our communities. “We desperately need these life-saving services, but Bill C-65 is aimed at making it more difficult for the opening of supervised consumption services that support the health and human rights of people who use drugs” said Zoe Dodd of the Toronto Drug Users Union.

(Read the full post here.)

CSCS stands in solidarity with AIDS Action Now, the Drug Users Advocacy League, the Toronto Drug Users Union, Pivot Legal Society, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, the Canadian Harm Reduction Network, the Canadian Nurses Association, the Canadian Medical Association, and many other groups and individuals across Canada who oppose the Conservative government's attempt to impede access to vital health care services for substance users.

In 2011, the Supreme Court ruled with respect to Insite that "Where, as here, a supervised injection site will decrease the risk of death and disease, and there is little or no evidence that it will have a negative impact on public safety, the Minister should generally grant an exemption.” Bill C-65 flies in the face of that ruling, imposing many obstacles to the creation of supervised consumption sites. With its Bill, the Conservative government is endangering the lives of thousands of people in what amounts to an attack on the health and human rights of people who use drugs throughout Canada.

Now, more than ever, our campaign needs your voice. Sign our petition in support of supervised consumption sites in Ottawa, and share it with your friends.

Let's show the government that Canadians stand behind these life-saving health facilities.

P.S. - The Canadian Nurses Association has created a petition urging the Health Minister to improve access to health & treatment services for people who use drugs, instead of creating more barriers. Please sign and share!

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