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.

The only legal supervised injection site in North American is Insite. People can inject their own drugs in a clean and supervised facility.

The top decision-makers at Ottawa City Hall have said they don’t want a supervised injection site like the one in Vancouver. Mayor Jim Watson and Police Chief Charles Bordeleau aren’t convinced.

Ottawa Public Health has been caught in the middle and has repeated its position that more community discussion is needed before it weighs in. The health unit has no plans to pursue an injection site.

The SFU study calls out the health unit to take a stand.

“The local health officials, not the federal or provincial government, should make decisions regarding opening (safe injection facilities), based on the positive impact of SIFs in reducing injections in public, while lowering the overdose fatalities and infectious disease,” the study concludes.

Public health said Tuesday it has several harm reduction programs, such as a needle exchange, and it has been meeting with stakeholders on the supervised injection site issue behind closed doors to help officials navigate the debate.

It’s unclear, however, if the local health unit will ultimately take a side.

The SFU study is the second one in two years that has suggested the country’s capital city should have a supervised injection site.

In a separate report released in 2012, St. Michael’s Hospital and the University of Toronto recommended that Ottawa should have two supervised injection sites.

Ottawa has a high rate of HIV among drug users compared to other major Canadian cities.

About 100 people participated in a rally on Parliament Hill last March to call for supervised injection sites in Ottawa.

By Jon Willing
Source: Ottawa Sun