Here is what happened at yesterday's Toronto Board of Health Meeting on Supervised Injection Services. For my presentation, click on the link below to download the file...
SAFE INJECTION SITES WILL COME TO TORONTO
There were two main hurdles preventing the implementation of this pilot project; funding and the passing of Bill C-65 in its current form. A third concern, which doesn’t appear to be insurmountable in the least, is an evaluation study of Safe injection Site pilot project.
One of the first things to be done will be to ask the Federal Government to take another go at drafting Bill C-65 and provide Canadian Citizens with reasonable conditions for opening these sites. Although in theory this bill allows Safe Injection Sites to exist, in it's current form, Bill C-65 effectively creates sufficient barriers that ensure, at the very least, a significant delay to it ever actually happening.
Funding will determine the number of pilot projects that will be implemented, but who will provide the funds for the pilot project to get underway? Our Provincial Health Minister, The Honorable Deb Matthews, had this to say in a recent interview on the topic of provincial funding for pilot projects of Safe Injection Sites, “they aren’t something that we’re moving forward with right now, but we do believe in an evidence-based approach to harm reduction.”
It is yet to be seen if the evidence presented Wednesday will impact the Provincial Health Minister’s decision and turn it around resulting in funding coming sooner rather than later. It also remains a question, once a favourable decision is obtained for this pilot project, the amount of funding that will be allocated to it.
In the meantime, as clearly substantiated in the statements and studies provided by the proponents, lives, which could so easily be saved, will be lost. Many more individuals will contract HIV and Hep C through the sharing of needles; those with life threatening infections caused by drug use (such as the two that took my daughter’s life) will fill hospital beds; and our neighbourhoods will continue to be littered with needles; all of which, as an end result will cost considerably more than if safe injection sites were implemented immediately.
So, now what happens?
The Toronto Board of Health will now register its opposition to Bill C-65 and will make the recommendation that a more feasible CDSA exemption application process in consultation with relevant provincial, public health, public safety and community stakeholders including people who use drugs, be drawn up.
On the issue of funding, The Toronto Board of Health will urge the provincial government fund the integration of supervised injection services, on a pilot basis, into existing provincially-funded clinical health services for people who use drugs in Toronto, and fund the evaluation of this pilot.
You likely have already determined that Safe Injection Sites very likely will still be a thing of the far distant future. That is definitely a disappointment for those who have been saying we need them for the last uncountable years, but perhaps if we apply this reasoning to it, it will help us keep our objectives in perspective. Out of the 80 - 90 safe injection sites in operation around the world today, not one of them opened without a lot of thought; community involvement; planning; and funding to ensure it would be of best benefit and care to its users. That is exactly what is taking place in this instance as well. Don’t be discouraged. Patience and persistence will prevail. This is just the start. I will ensure that Jac’s voice continues to be heard.
Donna D May for Jac’s voice
Our Community’s Safe Injection Site Supporters
A very heart felt thank you goes out to all those who came and spoke in favour of Safe Injection Sites, which included representatives from the following organizations:
Registered Nurses Association of Ontario;
Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President, St Michael’s Hospital;
Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network;
CAMH (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health);
Anglican Church, St Stephens-in-the-Fields;
Toronto Harm Reduction Task Force;
Breakaway Addiction Services;
LAMO Community Health Centre;
AIDS Action Now;
University of Toronto;
Jac’s voice, living with addiction and mental illness;
Canadian Harm Reduction Network;
Sandy Hill Community Health Centre;
Insite Vancouver; and
Toronto Drug Users Union, c/o South Riverdale Community Health Centre.
 TOSCA (Toronto and Ottawa Supervised Consumption Assessment) See more at Study, 2012 http://www.toscastudy.ca/toscastudy.ca/Home.html
 Controlled Drugs and Substances Act – See more at: http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/C-38.8/page-1.html
 RNAO (Registered Nurses Association Ontario) See more at: http://rnao.ca/sites/rnao-ca/files/RNAO_Letter_to_Minister_Matthews_SIS_July_2013_final.pdf