Last week, the federal government announced that it’d be spending over half a million dollars for a safe supply project in the Toronto area.
Announced by Patty Hajdu, the federal health minister, the $582,000 will provide 10 months of funding for an emergency safer supply project led by Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre in southwest Toronto.
This summer has seen health alerts issued throughout Canada (including BC, Alberta, and Ontario) of street drugs being laced with ingredients to stretch low supplies and to modify potency. This has increased overdose risk.
The move by the federal government to fund this project will provide what they call pharmaceutical-grade medication, as well as treatment and harm reduction services, food, supplies, and referrals to other service providers.
The Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre also received approval to open a temporary overdose prevention site in nearby Etobicoke. The temporary site will offer supervised consumption, harm reduction, education, and 24/7 on-call services.
Between January 2016 and December 2019, over 15,000 people in Canada died because of an opioid-related overdose. During that time, the number of supervised consumption sites in Canada has increased from 1 to 38 as a way to curb the number of overdose deaths. Safe supply can further reduce that death rate.
Related to this, also announced last week by the federal government was a 60-day consultation process regarding supervised consumption sites in the country. The consultation will receive input from the general public, consumption site operators, front-line healthcare workers, people who use the sites, and other stakeholders.
Since 2017, supervised consumption services across Canada have collectively received 2.2 million visitors, reversed over 17,000 overdoses, saw no deaths at the sites, and made over 84,000 referrals to health and social services.
Lethbridge’s supervised consumption site was recently defunded, and ARCHES, the organization that had been operating it since February 2018, announced recently that the lack of funds has forced them to shut it down as of the end of this month.