Ontario government extends overdose prevention sites’ licences as review continues

An injection kit at London's temporary overdose prevention site, picture on Feb 12th, 2017. Liny Lamberink / 980 CFPL

TORONTO – Ontario is extending the licences of the province’s overdose prevention sites to the end of March, after they had been set to expire this week.

Health Minister Christine Elliott announced in October that the government would spend just over $31 million a year to fund a maximum of 21 sites.

READ MORE: ‘It’s murder’: How lethal opioids devastated a small region of Ontario

Existing sites could apply to continue to operate under a new model planned by the government, and their licences had been set to expire on Jan. 31.

VIDEO: Doug Ford won’t commit to overdose-prevention sites

Click to play video: '‘We will listen’: Doug Ford won’t commit to overdose-prevention sites'
‘We will listen’: Doug Ford won’t commit to overdose-prevention sites

A spokeswoman for Elliott says she has signed an extension to allow existing sites to continue operating until March 31 while the ministry reviews applications.

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READ MORE: Ontario government to keep funding overdose-prevention sites

It’s expected that approved sites will transition in the spring to the new model that includes a focus on treatment and rehabilitation.

Data from Public Health Ontario shows that 1,261 people died from an opioid overdose in Ontario in 2017, an increase from 2016, when 867 people died.

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