Overdose Prevention Sites On Pause

Plans to open three new temporary overdose-prevention sites in Ontario have been shelved.

The sites were aimed at curbing the opioid crisis.

Health minister, Christine Elliott says the sites in Thunder Bay, St. Catharines and Toronto will be put on hold as the province conducts a review of harm-reduction practices and determines if the sites “have merit.”

Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa said, in a statement Monday that scientific literature and studies have concluded that both overdose-prevention and safe injection sites save lives.

But Elliot said “there is evidence on both sides” and she’s reviewing “contrary evidence” which reportedly suggests the sites may not be very effective in terms of getting people into rehabilitation programs.

Elliot says, “There’s no question that they do save lives, but there are other ways that you can get people into help to save their lives as well. So I think we need to take a look at these injection sites particularly to understand (if they are) doing everything that they’re meant to do — saving lives as well as helping people that wish to get into rehabilitation.”

She said that if the province does go ahead with more supervised injection site, they want to ensure they are using the “best possible evidence and the best possible practices.”

An overdose prevention site is a temporary facility approved by the province and set up to address an immediate need in a community.

Safe injection, on the other hand, is a more permanent location that’s approved by the federal government after a more extensive application process.