The overdose prevention and supervised injection site at Toronto’s Moss Park can continue its activities into the cold winter months, thanks to the donation of a heated trailer by Ontario’s largest union.
Since Aug. 12, a team of over 150 volunteers has set up tents in the park, treating drug users for overdose, handing out Naloxone kits and providing supervised injection facilities.
In just over a month and a half, the unsanctioned site helped stop or reverse 85 overdoses, provided a space for nearly 2,000 supervised injections and distributed over 1,000 Naloxone kits, the public health gains prompting the city to turn a blind eye.
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But the arrival of winter threw into question the site’s future.
Although the City of Toronto urged the federal government to approve an indoor site, there were fears that the process could take months.
“We need indoor space immediately — we cannot wait,” volunteer nurse Leigh Chapman, who lost her brother to an overdose a few years ago, told Global News on Nov. 1.
Enter CUPE Ontario.
On Monday, the union said it had rented a winterized trailer, citing an “absence of government leadership” for prompting it to step in.
“Our government needs to do more than track and talk about the opioid crisis. People are dying and that requires action,” CUPE Ontario president Fred Hahn said in a press release. “Thanks to the volunteers in Moss Park — they’ve saved 106 people from dying of an overdose. Their work must continue and that is why we stepped up to provide a safe space for the winter.”
Hahn warned that it was high time the government stepped up to provide a permanent solution, in the wake of the opioid crisis gripping the city’s vulnerable populations.
“It’s time they stop dancing around the subject and act,” Hahn said.