International Overdose Awareness Day is a global event held on August 31st each year to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death. Join us at the Human Rights Monument on Elgin at 11:30 for the Ottawa event.
Support for a safe injection site in Ottawa is growing, particularly among younger people, a new poll shows.
The Forum Research poll shows 58 per cent of those surveyed on July 22 said they approved of a safe injection site for intravenous drug users in downtown Ottawa, up four percentage points from when the same question was asked in May.
Support was highest among those aged 18-34 (58 per cent), those with postgraduate degrees (68 per cent), and those who lived with marijuana dispensaries in their neighbourhoods (67 per cent).
Ottawa’s board of health voted 9-2 Monday night to encourage supervised-injection sites to open in the city.
“Listen to, more than anything, the people who live this,” Capital Coun. David Chernushenko told skeptics. He’d come into the health-board meeting not knowing how much he didn’t know about addiction, and treatment, and what it’s like to be a drug addict, he said.
The board heard from several, all begging the board to say it supports the notion of opening supervised facilities where addicts can inject drugs in the presence of nurses who can rescue them from overdoses. People like Darren Noftall, twitchy, tense, out of place at the formal table in city hall’s committee room, who said his life had been saved twice at Vancouver’s Insite. He overdosed at Canada’s first safe-injection site and the nurses saved him.
He left Vancouver, thinking he’d be better at home in Ontario. It hasn’t worked out that way yet.
“I live alone. I use alone. That puts me at high risk to die alone,” he said. “When I go home, I’m going to do that hit tonight, I don’t know if I’m going to be alive in the morning.”
Once again Ottawa will join people in over 100 cities around the world that believe “the harms caused by the war on drugs can no longer be ignored.” This is the fourth annual global Support Don’t Punish day of action. Each city takes their own issues and actions under the umbrella of ending the war on drugs across the globe.
In Ottawa this year we will be calling attention to the need for a ‘Good Samaritan Policy’. A Good Samaritan Policy is when there’s a written rule that protects people from drug possession charges when calling and waiting for emergency services in an overdose situation. Too often, when someone overdoses people hesitate or don’t call emergency health services for fear of being charged by police. Let’s legalize supporting our friends in emergency situations.
Ray Harrison has seen people shoot up using water from toilets and puddles.
He's pulled friends who were overdosing in the street to a phone booth to call 911, so they wouldn't be tracked by police.
Now Harrison — a former drug user himself who says he's been clean since the New Year's Day 2014 — says it's time for Ottawa to open a supervised injection site.
He believes they will help prevent people from spreading disease and give them a reason to access health care services, which could start them on a road to breaking their addictions.
"You need to be able to start somewhere and not necessarily when you hit rock bottom, when you get incarcerated," Harrison told CBC News ahead of tonight's Ottawa Board of Health meeting.
The city's medical officer of health, Dr. Isra Levy, is expected to make his case at that meeting for why Ottawa should have supervised injection sites, and why Ottawa Public Health should support agencies that propose to set them up.
Community health centres will be at tonight's Ottawa Board of Health meeting to offer Levy their full support, and Harrison is planning to be there, too.
"I think the safer injection site will save a lot of people, and the community, a lot of grief; along with the police [since] they're not having to chase these people down in somebody's backyard," Harrison said.
Not one but four community health centres in Ottawa are looking at the idea of offering supervised injection services to drug addicts.
The Sandy Hill Community Health Centre is currently looking to set up a supervised injection site, the city's first such service, at its Nelson Street location.
The health centre's board could start a process next week to ask for a federal exemption so its staff and clients wouldn't be charged with possessing an illegal substance.
But the Carlington, Centretown and Somerset West community health centres are also exploring whether that makes sense for them too.
Somerset West executive director Jack McCarthy said the point of the preliminary investigations is to stop the spread of disease and prevent people from possibly overdosing in alleys or other secluded places.
Three more Ottawa community health centres are making plans to open safe-injection sites for drug users, following the lead of the one that serves Sandy Hill.
The boards at the Somerset West and Centretown community health centres have voted to have their respective staffs figure out the logistics of adding a supervised facility for chronic users of hard drugs to use them in a clean place with trained staff ready to respond to overdoses.
That puts them behind (but not by much) the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre on Rideau Street, which has similar plans.
The Carlington Community Health Centre on Merivale Road is a step behind them. Its board supports the idea of safe-injection sites and is expected to vote in the fall on whether to closely examine prospects for opening one at its centre.