It needs to stay.
A few months ago many local stakeholders got together to determine what more could be done to help those in our community with the wave of the opioid crisis now on our city’s doorstep.
I want to first acknowledge those stakeholders for their care and ongoing work they do in our community. Thank you for all you do!
There are many tools in the toolbox to help those in need. From increased enforcement, a rapid access addictions centre, education on safe needle disposal, a community outreach van for assistance, counselling, mental health awareness and much much more.
But another tool was recently added to the toolbox:
An overdose prevention site.
This temporary site is fully staffed with a nurse, supportive counselling and more. To date, there has been over 1000 visits, engagement with over 150 unique individuals, 7 overdose reversals, and 2 assisted onsite medical emergencies. The opening of this site has taken away the cloak and dagger aspect of using these drugs, hiding in the shadows where there was zero opportunity for safety to those addicted, or any opportunity to build relationships to give users the ability to obtain the resources required to remove themselves from their addictions.
Recently I’ve heard that the Province is reviewing the evidence behind these sites, and that there is a risk of them being shut down prematurely.
This is wrong.
Perhaps the current location isn’t the best. Or perhaps this site may never need to be a permanent one in our community. But taking it away now, at the height of need during a crisis in our community makes no sense.
I often talk about infrastructure needs in our community. The roads, pipes, bridges and city buildings that need attention. How much more important are the lives of people in our community, that at this time in their lives need help? Taking away this site, which is their infrastructure, cannot and should not happen.
Addictions do not discriminate and we shouldn’t either.
I call upon the Province and The Minister of Health to allow this site to remain. This temporary site is an immediate response to the current crisis we’re in. We need to see this through to the end where we can establish the metrics and measure the impacts we all require, and to continue to positively change and save lives along the way.
Mayor Cam Guthrie