August 30, 2018 12:03 pm
Updated: August 30, 2018 12:04 pm

Health groups urge Ontario government to rethink position on overdose prevention sites

Ontario Premier Doug Ford stopped short of committing to any new safe-injection sites in the province at a media briefing, but said he "will listen" to medical experts on the issue.

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TORONTO – More than 100 health groups have sent an open letter to Doug Ford and Ontario’s health minister asking them to reconsider the province’s position on overdose prevention sites.

The Progressive Conservative government recently paused the planned openings of several overdose prevention sites as it conducts a review to determine if such facilities will continue to operate.

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READ MORE: Ontario pauses opening 3 overdose-prevention sites while it conducts review

The letter calls the provincial review unnecessary and says all available evidence demonstrates that such sites save lives.

It also urges the government to work with community organizations and other health-service providers to increase the number of such facilities.

READ MORE: Ontario’s decision to halt new overdose-prevention sites could ‘lead to more death’: experts

Nicholas Caivano, a policy analyst with the Canadian HIV AIDS Legal Network, which spearheaded the letter, says the provincial review will impose delays that could result in preventable overdose deaths and new infections of HIV, hepatitis C and other illnesses.

A spokeswoman for the health minister says the province is conducting an evidence-based review and is listening to experts, community leaders and community members in the process.

© 2018 The Canadian Press

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