Temporary overdose prevention site to stay open as province extends funding

With just 48 hours before London's Temporary Overdose Prevention Site was set to close, the province has extended the funding for the site as it looks further into opioid addiction, the health ministry said late Friday afternoon.

Extension to allow King Street site to stay open comes less 48 hours before it was set to close

One of the waiting areas inside the site. Clients need to sign in to use the service. (Amanda Margison, CBC News)

The Ontario government is asking Ottawa for an extension that will allow London's Temporary Overdose Prevention Site (TOPS) to continue operating.

The facility's contract with the province was set to expire Sunday at midnight.

A statement by Health Minister Christine Elliott issued Friday afternoon said she is finalizing her recommendations for the site but that a decision about whether or not it will operate long-term "must not be rushed."

CBC News has learned that the extension will allow the King Street site, which opened in February, to continue operating for a month.

Elliott was in London Friday morning at the opening of a paramedic building. Reporters waiting to speak with her said she left through a back door and was not available for interviews. 

The temporary facility has had more than 10,000 visits since it opened in a city with one of the highest needle use rates in Canada. It has prevented 34 deaths from overdoses. 

"Our government's overriding priority is to ensure that all efforts to combat opioid addiction are designed to introduce people into rehabilitation and that those struggling with addiction get the help they need," the statement reads.