One of the lead researchers examining the feasibility of establishing a safe injection site in Thunder Bay says the location and integration of the supervised facility will be key to its success.
The study must find the best spot to put the site, so that drug users can actually access it, said Sean Rourke, the scientific and executive director for the Ontario HIV Treatment Network.
"There are people in Thunder Bay who are having really significant health consequences, and even earlier deaths because these services are not available," he said, adding that it is important the study determine how to make sure the site becomes part of the community, and the local health care system.
"It also, not only in the acute sense helps to protect them and support them in those injection behaviours, it's also an opportunity to build a relationship and a support a place to get more services to address the broader issues that got them there in the first place," Rourke said.
Currently, there are no safe injection sites in Ontario, but feasibility studies are well underway in Toronto and Ottawa. Similar studies will begin in Thunder Bay and London, Ont., in March.
"We want to make sure that people are going to use the service, and that it's going to be effective for them." said Rourke.