First of five planned ‘barrier-free’ addiction clinics opens in Toronto

Addiction experts call for opioid antagonist as more illicit drugs hit the streets in Saskatchewan.
Five walk-in addiction clinics will open in Toronto in the coming months under a new provincial initiative. Meaghan Craig / Global News File

TORONTO – A Toronto hospital says the city’s first “barrier-free” addiction clinic will reduce the wait times to days from up to months for patients seeking treatment.

The clinic at Women’s College Hospital is one of five walk-in addiction clinics that are to open in Toronto in the coming months under a new provincial initiative called Mentoring Education and Clinical Tools for Addiction: Primary Care-Hospital Integration.

READ MORE: Deadly opioid carfentanil found in drugs in Ontario after overdose: police

Project manager Kate Hardy says the clinic is described as barrier-free because patients with alcohol, opioid or other addictions don’t require a booked appointment or a referral from a doctor.

Hardy says seven similar clinics opened in other Ontario cities about 15 months ago and have been credited with preventing opioid overdoses, reducing emergency-room visits and inpatient stays for people with addictions.

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She says five of those sites saved the health-care system an estimated $200,000 for the first 150 patients in their first 90 days of treatment.

Opioid and alcohol abuse are the main addictions the clinics are treating, but Hardy says doctors are seeing an increase in people seeking help for cannabis use disorder.