TVO's The Agenda hosts an excellent in-depth discussion of the benefits of supervised injection sites and the pressing need in Ottawa & Toronto with Joe Cressy and Dr. Ahmed Bayoumi.
Last July, Toronto approved the establishment of three safe injection sites and now, in an effort to battle opioid overdose deaths, the province has agreed to fund those sites and one in Ottawa. Toronto Councillor Joe Cressy has been a strong advocate for the public health benefits of such facilities. Dr. Bayoumi is the co-author of the 2012 TOSCA report on the harm reduction potential of safe injection sites in Ottawa and Toronto.
The City of Ottawa's top doctor says supervised drug injection sites "save lives," and said if the city chooses to welcome the facilities, it may need more than one.
"Safer, or supervised consumption sites are an unquestioned part of the spectrum of health services," said Dr. Isra Levy, the city's chief medical officer of health.
"Do we need one in Ottawa? We may need more than one."
"The issue that then becomes part of this conversation is, what about access? To get good access, we may want to be looking at things like mobile services, we may want to be looking at services in other, existing, health facilities."
In less than two years addicts in the city of Ottawa could have a safe, clean environment to do drugs.
A public consultation took place Monday at the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre about a proposal to open the capital’s first supervised injection site at the community health centre. The intervention program has been applauded by many health care professionals as an effective method to reduce overdoses, while also reducing the spread of diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C.
It's been just a little more than two years since Donna May, the mother of a dead drug addict, came to Ottawa to plead for a safe injection site in the nation's capital.
Her message couldn't have been more clear or more heartbreaking.
"Mine is a hard story to tell. If you have already formed an opinion, based on what you've been told, or educated by what your community leaders have guided you to believe, I used to be one of you," she said back in October 2013.
"There is no worse blind man than the one who does not want to see. I changed my opinion completely and my hope in sharing my story is to at least open your mind."
May, who lives in Toronto, was feeling safe in her suburban lifestyle when her daughter began taking drugs.
With her story, she could have been speaking directly to me -and to many of my suburban friends and thousands of others who just inherently feel without any real justification that safe injection sites are absolutely wrong.
The good news about her appearance calling for safe injection sites is that May did cause many of us in the room to think more thoughtfully about our somewhat instinctive and very negative reaction to safe injection sites.
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.
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.
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.
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.