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Construction begins on 1 of 3 Toronto safe injection sites

Last Updated Aug 8, 2017 at 12:33 pm EDT

A man uses a needle at a safe injection site in Vancouver. CITYNEWS

Construction on one of three safe injection sites in Toronto began on Tuesday.

The site is located inside the Toronto Public Health building on Victoria Street at Dundas Street. The other two sites will be located at the Queen West-Central Toronto and the South Riverdale community health centres.

The sites allow people to use illicit drugs under the supervision of a medical professional.

Last Thursday, Mayor John Tory held an emergency meeting with first responders, public health officials and some city councillors, to deal with the spike in suspected opioid-related deaths.

Toronto recently saw a string of six opioid deaths within a week, all believed to be caused by overdoses on the deadly drug fentanyl.

On Tuesday, Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of health, said there were 94 visits to the city’s emergency rooms for suspected drug overdoses between July 27 and Aug. 2.

One of the measures laid out after the meeting was to speed up the opening of the three sties, which were expected to open in the fall.

The other measures include distributing more than 1,000 naloxone kits to Toronto Public Health’s front-line staff and for Toronto police to consider having some officers carry naloxone. Naloxone is a fentanyl antidote.

Toronto Public Health’s most recent data indicates that there were 87 opioid-related deaths in the city in the first six months of 2016, and there were 135 opioid-related deaths in 2015.

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