The City of Toronto has announced that interim safe injection sites will open earlier than anticipated in response to an increase in overdose deaths in the city of Toronto. Sites will be located where federal exemptions from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act have already been provided, including a Toronto Public Health facility that specializes in harm reduction services and two Community Health Centres, including South Riverdale and Queen West Community Health Centres. These sites will be available for drug users to inject under supervision until renovations for the long-term facilities are complete in the fall.
This announcement came days after health care workers and harm reduction advocates set up an unsanctioned overdose prevention site in a public park in downtown Toronto on August 12th. This site allowed for a hygienic place for people to inject substances under the supervision of trained medical staff and volunteers. Volunteers on site also provided naloxone and overdose prevention information to community members.
Toronto Public Health’s most recent data shows that there have been 326 substance-related emergency department visits since January 2017. In Ontario, it is estimated that there is an overdose death due to opioids every 14 hours. Naloxone, an injection or intranasal spray, can reverse the effects of an opioid withdrawl, and is available for free at participating pharmacies in Ontario.
For more information on where to obtain a free naloxone kit, visit this page on the Ontario website.