Nov. 8, 2017
Toronto Public Health (TPH) opened its doors to Toronto’s first permanent supervised injection site. The site is a TPH facility called The Works, located at 277 Victoria St., which has been operating as a safe environment for people to inject their own drugs under the supervision of qualified staff since August (as an interim site). Since the summer, city media relations said in a press release on Thursday there have been more than 800 visits at the site and staff at the clinic have intervened in 10 overdoses.
Toronto’s medical officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, said in a statement on Wednesday, “Today marks an important milestone for our city towards addressing this very serious public health crisis affecting so many in our community.”
“Too many people are dying at alarming rates in our city due to overdose. The most recent local data estimates show the number of opioid deaths in Toronto increased by 33 per cent in one year alone,” the chair of the Board of Health, Councillor Joe Mihevc, said via the statement from the city.
Last week at a heated meeting, Joe Cressy, councillor and chair of the Toronto Drug Strategy Implementation Panel, commended the province for setting up tents for a temporary site in Moss Park. But a CBC article by Amara McLaughlin reported activists were not happy when learning “open flames used to heat drugs inside the tent presented a fire hazard.”
CBC Ottawa’s Elise von Scheel reported last week that the city declined the province’s offer of a tent. Mayor Jim Watson was quoted in that article, saying “We don’t believe a temporary site in the cold, in the winter, in a park is an appropriate use of the resources.” Ottawa is opening a 24/7 trailer, reported Elizabeth Payne of the Ottawa Citizen last week.
Other cities in Canada are moving forward on supervised injection sites. The Canadian Press reported in late October that a temporary site will soon open in Calgary while a permanent one is being constructed.