Ontario seeks extension on overdose prevention sites as it decides fate of facilities
An interim injection site in Toronto Public Health's offices at Dundas and Victoria St. is seen on Monday, August 21, 2017. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston)
The Canadian Press
Published Friday, September 28, 2018 5:21PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, September 28, 2018 8:26PM EDT
TORONTO -- The Ontario government is asking Ottawa to extend an exemption that would allow overdose prevention sites to continue operating in the province while it decides the fate of the facilities.
The province said this summer it was halting the opening of new overdose prevention sites while it conducted its review, and said it would announce its decision by the end of September.
Ontario's health minister, Christine Elliott, said in a statement late Friday afternoon that she has received data on the sites and held consultations on the issue, and is in the process of finalizing her recommendations.
She did not say when a decision would be announced or how long of an extension she sought.
Overdose prevention sites are approved by the province following a federal decision to grant the province an exemption under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. They are temporary facilities set up to address an immediate need in a community. Safe injection sites, meanwhile, are more permanent locations approved by the federal government after a more extensive application process.
The provincial NDP released its own statement Friday evening, accusing the Ford government of "continuing to delay the opening of overdose prevention sites throughout Ontario."
"As the Ford government dithers, lives are shattered, families are destroyed, and people die," New Democrat mental health and addictions Bhutila Karpoche said in a statement.
"The evidence is so clear: overdose prevention sites save lives. It's time for the Ford government to stop standing in the way of health care professionals trying to save lives."
More than 3,800 people died from opioids in Canada in 2017, compared to 2,978 in 2016, according to the latest figures by Canada's health agency published last June.