Ottawa

Supervised injection site advocates want more from Ottawa Public Health

Advocates of supervised injection sites say they're encouraged but hoping for more action from Ottawa Public Health after the agency issued a statement saying it still has no plans to open one in Ottawa.

'There is still a big gap in the sense of supervised space for someone to consume drugs'

Caleb Chepesiuk, a harm reduction co-ordinator AIDS Committee of Ottawa, says it's encouraging to see support for supervised injection sites in Toronto and that he's hoping for similar support in Ottawa. (CBC News)

Advocates of supervised drug injection sites say they're encouraged but hoping for more action from Ottawa Public Health after the agency issued a statement saying it still has no plans to open one in Ottawa.

Toronto public health officials announced Monday that they're moving ahead with plans to open three supervised injection sites in that city, and on Tuesday Ottawa Public Health issued a statement saying that while it's monitoring the developments in Toronto, the agency has no plans to open sites in Ottawa.

"At this time, OPH has no plans to open a [supervised injection] facility in Ottawa however, OPH is aware that some of our community partner agencies are exploring this option which should include robust community consultations," the agency said.

Reducing harm continues to be a priority, Ottawa Public Health said, adding that it and its 19 partner agencies already "provide broad ranging harm reduction programs in Ottawa every day of the week."

Caleb Chepesiuk, a harm reduction co-ordinator for the AIDS Committee of Ottawa, said his group hopes the statement is "another step towards public support" for supervised injection sites.

'There is still a big gap'

"We would have liked to hear the political support for supervised injection sites ... but we are happy to hear that they're continuing to listen to it, that they want to be receptive to everybody in this process," said Chepesiuk.

"... And I agree that Ottawa is blessed with a lot of great harm-reduction services, but there is still a big gap in the sense of supervised space for someone to consume drugs. We hear this both here ... as well as from other providers in Ottawa that it's a frustrating gap if we provide harm-reduction equipment to someone ... and they don't have a safe space [to use it in]."

Jordon MacLean, a social worker in Ottawa, said he's also encouraged by Ottawa Public Health's statement, but that he hopes the agency supports supervised injection sites.

"We have to be encouraged and we're not going to stop until it happens, whenever that is," he said.

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