Sudbury

Report nearly complete on need for supervised injection site in Sudbury

Sudbury's Community Drug Strategy will soon be ready to release the results of its feasibility study into the need for a supervised injection site for the city. 

Study was scheduled to be released by Community Drug Strategy this spring, but delayed due to pandemic

Opioids continue to kill people amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

Sudbury's Community Drug Strategy will soon be ready to release the results of its feasibility study into the need for a supervised injection site for the city.

The results from the study, which began last year, were originally supposed to be released this spring. But were slightly delayed, "with everybody having to re-adjust to the new COVID reality, but the work on that hasn't stopped at all," said Josée Joliat, a public health nurse with Public Health Sudbury and Districts, and interim coordinator for the community drug strategy.

"We're at the point where the findings need to be validated by partners before being released, but as soon as that's done, then the community will be able to have full access to what's being said in our report," she said.

This comes at a time when the public health unit is continuing to hear frequent reports of opioid overdoses. The health unit released a drug warning last month following a spike in reported overdoses. 

Discussions at city council

The issue of opioid overdoses was also discussed by Sudbury city council during its meeting last week, after Councillor Michael Vagnini brought up concerns about a number of recent deaths. 

"When we're talking about creating a healthy community, I think that that's something that we need to understand," he said. 

"Yes … we have had all these other issues, but we've got people that are in dire straits right now."

Councillor Michael Vagnini raised concerns about opioid-related deaths during Sudbury's city council meeting June 9. (Martha Dillman/CBC)

The city's manager of community development, Steve Jacques, said the city has "seen an increase in opioid use during this crisis. And you are correct that there are folks who are dying in our community as a result of overdoses."

Jacques noted that the safe injection site report is nearly complete, and added that the city continues to work with community partners, to look at root causes, as well as "potential solutions that we can implement."

'A lot of education'

At this point, Joliat said it's too early to know if the recent spike in opioid-related incidents is directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic. She noted there was also a spike in overdoses around the same time last year.

"But that doesn't minimize the fact that we do have to continue addressing these concerns," she said.

Joliat says the community drug strategy has been particularly focused on increasing public education on harm reduction, as well as making sure naloxone is readily available throughout the community. 

The group is also working on getting messaging out that treatment services are still available.

"So, it's a lot of education, and a lot of just keeping people aware of what's available right now in our current context." 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarah MacMillan is a reporter with CBC Sudbury. She previously worked with CBC P.E.I. You can contact her at sarah.macmillan@cbc.ca

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