November 30, 2016
Tomorrow, in recognition of World AIDS Day, Toronto Public Health will submit an exemption application to Health Canada to operate a supervised injection service in Toronto. Queen West Central Toronto Community Health Centre and South Riverdale Community Health Centre will also submit their applications tomorrow to operate supervised injection services as part of their existing harm reduction services for people who inject drugs.
"International research shows that supervised injection services reduce drug overdoses, save lives and limit the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C related to unsafe injection practices," said Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Toronto's Acting Medical Officer of Health. "This submission demonstrates our commitment to these essential health services and is an important collaboration between public health and our community health centres."
Supervised injection services are health services that provide a safer and hygienic environment for people to inject pre-obtained drugs under the supervision of qualified staff.
Community consultations were held in Toronto last spring to provide information to the public about supervised injection services and to provide an opportunity for the community to share their input about benefits, concerns and strategies related to these health services.
"Torontonians are dying in increasing numbers due to overdose. These deaths are preventable," said Councillor Joe Cressy (Ward 20 Trinity-Spadina), Chair of the Toronto Drug Strategy Implementation Panel. "Supervised injection services will save lives and improve the health of people who inject drugs."
In July 2016, Toronto City Council approved these proposed sites, which expand on existing harm reduction services at the three locations. In addition to supervised injection, individuals using these important health services will be provided with sterile injection supplies, education on overdose prevention and intervention, health counselling services and referrals to drug treatment, housing, income support and other services. In August 2016, all three health care organizations submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to fund the implementation of this service in Toronto.
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