Provincial government promises to extend funding for London’s overdose prevention site
The provincial government says it will extend funding for London’s overdose prevention site, a week before the funding was set to expire.
London North Centre NDP MPP Terence Kernaghan raised the issue at Queen’s Park Thursday morning and demanded an answer about the future of the site at 186 King St., which was set to close on Aug. 15.
“London’s Regional HIV/AIDS connection and the Middlesex London Health Unit run a temporary overdose prevention site that has been a saving grace for my community,” he said.
“Will this government grant a much needed extension for the site?”
The short answer, said Minister of Health and Long-term Care, Christine Elliott, is “yes.”
“We want to look at the evidence to make sure that the continuation of all the supervised injection sites are going to be of a benefit to people, to save lives, and to help introduce people into rehabilitation,” she said.
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Elliot said she plans to visit the site and to talk to the experts who work there.
“That is what I’m hoping to do in the next few days … we don’t want them to stop the work while our investigation is [ongoing].”
Since it opened on Feb. 12, the overdose prevention site inside the Regional HIV/AIDS Connection (RHAC) says it has had about 6,000 visits by roughly 2,000 unique clients.
RHAC’s executive director, Brian Lester, said clients appreciate the site because they’re treated with dignity.
“What they say to me, and the staff that serve them, is ‘thank you for treating us with dignity’, thanking us for giving them a message that they matter in this world, thanking us for them feeling less alone, and just thanking us for the ongoing support.”
For Ward 4 councillor Jesse Helmer, Elliot’s promise is good news in the short term.
“I think it’s still up in the air whether the government is going to support supervised consumption services generally, and the temporary overdose prevention sites specifically in the longer term. I think we still need to convince them those are important services.”
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