City wants to operate its own overdose prevention site in Hamilton

The city of Hamilton is asking the province for money to run its own supervised consumption site where addicts can take drugs and get advice on where to get treatment to stop.
The city has applied to operate its own permanent overdose prevention site in Hamilton. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

The city of Hamilton is asking the province for money to run its own overdose prevention site where addicts can take drugs and get advice on addiction treatment.

Hamilton's board of health voted Monday to ask Queen's Park for about $1,314,820 per year to operate a consumption and treatment services (CTS) site. This would be in addition to community agencies, such as Hamilton Urban Core Community Health Centre, who also want to operate permanent sites.

Hamilton's medical officer of health, Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, said the city's opioid crisis is dire enough to warrant several sites, including one that's municipally run.

"We clearly have significant ongoing needs when you look at the rates of opioid overdoses and the deaths related to them," she told CBC News.

Hamilton is above the provincial rate for opioid overdoses. Already in January and February, more than three people a day have called 911 over a suspected overdose, a public health report says. That's about 15 people a week, or 121 people in those two months alone.

Last year, Urban Core said it saved 23 lives in the first six months of operating its supervised consumption site.

Danielle Delonttinville is a peer support worker at that site, and a member of Keeping Six, a community-based organization that advocates for drug users. She said the Urban Core site at 71 Rebecca St. is so busy that people are rushed in and out.

"Not everyone is able to wait," she told the board. "Unfortunately, sometimes they end up leaving and using outside and we can't keep an eye on them or take care of them 100 per cent."

A few other Ontario cities have made this ask, Richardson said. The deadline for applying is April 16.

The proposal would mean the full-time equivalent of six public health nurses, 3.1 harm reduction workers, three peer support workers and a clinic supervisor.

About the Author

Samantha Craggs is a CBC News reporter based in Hamilton, Ont. She has a particular interest in politics and social justice stories, and tweets live from Hamilton city hall. Follow her on Twitter at @SamCraggsCBC, or email her at samantha.craggs@cbc.ca


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