Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday December 6, 2017
Supervised injection site in works for downtown Hamilton
The city has endorsed a supervised injection site for downtown Hamilton but it’s up to a community agency to step up to run such a facility.
The city’s board of health endorsed the findings of a long-awaited study Monday that recommend adding at least one permanent site in the core for people to safely inject illegal drugs under the watchful eye of health professionals.
But the study also recommended the site be “integrated” with an existing agency that already offers “harm reduction” services, like needle exchanges or addiction treatment.
Hamilton’s public health unit will offer “in-kind” support for a supervised injection site, said medical officer of health Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, but she added it is expected the province will fund operations by a willing community agency.
Richardson said unspecified agencies in the downtown area have “informally expressed interest,” but added it may take several months before an application is completed and vetted by the government. (The province is expected to pay for operations, but the federal government also has to give an exemption for illegal drug use and possession on site.)
She wouldn’t speculate about which agencies will apply to run a supervised injection site, but two groups that already offer related services showed up Monday to urge city support.
Wesley Urban Ministries already runs a supervised consumption site for residents battling alcohol dependency, offers “harm reduction materials” for drug users and sexual health counselling, noted housing and homelessness director Dean Waterfield.
“We know practising harm reduction leads to further treatment, better health care and better neighbourhoods,” said Waterfield, who added 10 agency clients have died by drug overdose this year. He urged councillors to add a supervised injection site “to the tool box” of local agencies. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)