Toronto’s Board of Health has thrown its support behind safe-injection sites, approving a report that recommends a pilot project for the city.
Toronto Public Health presented the report at a board meeting Wednesday, recommending safe-injection sites for drug users inside existing health care institutions to help reduce the number of drug-related deaths.
About 900 people have died of accidental overdose in Toronto between 2002 and 2010, according the office of Ontario’s chief coroner. Of those deaths, 538 were due to opioids, a family of painkillers that includes heroin and Oxycontin.
The report cited research from Vancouver and abroad showing that safe injection sites are effective in preventing drug overdoses and reducing the risk of disease transmission.
Mayor Rob Ford has said in the past that he doesn’t support safe-injection sites in the city.
On his weekly radio show on NewsTalk 1010 on Sunday, Ford suggested safe injection sites would facilitate drug use in Toronto.
“What we should do is get these people into rehab clinics and say listen, this is where the money should be spent,” he said.
The report from Toronto Public Health also asked for recent draft federal legislation to be withdrawn.
The Respect for Communities Act was introduced in June and outlines how health providers could seek exemption from federal drug regulations to open a safe-injection site.
The legislation requires applicants to consult with the community, provincial and municipal authorities and law enforcement officials, something Toronto Public Health said creates too many barriers.
The Canadian Medical Association also weighed in on the issue, stating the legislation would create unnecessary obstacles.