Guelph supervised consumption site gets provincial approval to stay open
No word on Region of Waterloo's application for provincially-funded site
The Guelph Community Health Centre (CHC) has been given the green light to continue to operate its supervised consumption site.
The provincial government announced on Friday 15 sites were approved across Ontario "in areas with the greatest need."
Guelph CHC first opened its site in May 2018, in partnership with the Guelph Family Health Team and HIV/AIDS Resources and Community Health (ARCH).
The service was established under the previous Liberal government's overdose prevention site model.
In October 2018, the current Progressive Conservative government announced that model would be replaced by the new Consumption and Treatment Services (CTS) program, which would cap the number of sites at 21.
Existing sites had to reapply under the new program if they wished to stay open. Guelph CHC submitted its application in December after public consultations and approval from city council.
Executive director Raechelle Devereaux said it was a relief to finally hear back from the province and learn that they would be able to continue to offer "life-saving services" to the community.
"We had been through three health alerts, with spikes in fentanyl in our community since we applied," she said. "Certainly we are seeing rising numbers of clients coming to our site."
Devereaux said the funding from the CTS program will also allow Guelph CHC to hire more staff, including a social worker and a registered practical nurse, to help connect people with wraparound services in the community.
Currently the staff includes a registered nurse, who works in the consumption room, and an individual with lived experience of mental health and addiction, who helps with ongoing monitoring in the post-use room.
While Guelph CHC's application was approved, one site in Ottawa learned its application was turned down.
Three sites in Toronto were also not approved, however two were given last-minute exemptions to continue operating under the federal government's supervised consumption site program.
Friday's announcement did not include the Region of Waterloo, which has also applied to open one or more sites under the provincial program.
In an email to CBC Kitchener-Waterloo, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care said the province will continue to accept applications from interested organizations, but did not indicate a timeline for responding to the region's request.