Peterborough-Kawartha MP Dave Smith says a location needs to be determined before a supervised consumption and treatment site can be established in the City of Peterborough.
Smith was in attendance at Thursday night’s opioid summit which featured a panel and public speakers talking about the city’s opioid crisis. So far this year there have been 19 known overdose deaths in the city, police said.
“There were some real-life experiences and heart-breaking stories being told,” he told Global News Peterborough on Friday.
The Ontario government last fall announced it was abruptly halting funding for a number of safe injection sites, including one proposed last year for Peterborough.
This spring, the province rolled out plans for newly approved “consumption and treatment services” sites with a goal to provide support including rehabilitation along with a safe place for people to use their drugs.
WATCH: Tragic stories shared at opioid summit in Peterborough
Smith said following an emergency meeting late last month of health officials, first responders and other groups, a steering committee was formed. That group will submit a new application to the province for a consumption and treatment service to serve the city and county.
“Ultimately we are trying to save as many lives as possible,” he said. “So that needs to be done as quickly as we can.”
He added a timeline for the site can’t be given until an exact location is determined and established.
Smith invited MPP Michael Tibollo to Thursday’s summit. He’s Ontario’s associate minister of addiction and mental health.
“I wanted him to see we had support in this community and to understand that is beyond a crisis,” said Smith. “I don’t know if ‘crisis’ actually describes how severe it is in Peterborough right now.”
NDP federal leader Andrea Horwath was also in attendance at the summit. She says the province needs to take a more assertive approach to the opioid crisis.
“This is a public health emergency – and we need an end to the arbitrary cap on overdose-prevention sites,” she said in a Tweet on Friday morning.
Smith say the opioid crisis in his riding goes beyond partisan politics.
“It’s eye-opening for anyone who hears the stories and finds out how many have overdoses there have been or people who have died of it,” he said.
WATCH: Group formed to submit bid for safe consumption site in Peterborough