N.S. funding overdose prevention sites for Halifax and Sydney

Click to play video: 'N.S. to find two overdose prevention sites'
N.S. to find two overdose prevention sites
WATCH: Advocates say overdose prevention sites are one way to prevent needless deaths. Now the province is investing half a million dollars to two such sites in Nova Scotia, one of which will be a new site in Cape Breton. As Amber Fryday reports, the investment is being hailed as a crucial life-saving measure – Dec 7, 2021

Nova Scotia is establishing two overdose prevention sites (OPS) in Halifax and Sydney.

One will operate out of Direction 180, a Mi’kmaw Friendship Centre Program in Halifax. The other will be in the Ally Centre in Sydney.

This will be the first overdose prevention center in Cape Breton. Ally Centre Executive Director Christine Porter, says opening one on the island is crucial especially with the toxic drug supply that has been going around.

“We’re seeing a lot of fentanyl-laced cocaine and a lot of bootlegged pills that are pressed and not from a pharmacy. I think it’s a prime time to get the OPS running so people can use it in a safe place. It will keep people alive.”

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The province’s $500,000 dollar funding will be distributed equally to the two sites, over a two-year period. It will provide individuals who use substances, a safe atmosphere, and will help link them with necessary support systems. There will also be testing available on-site to ensure the supply isn’t tainted.

“OPS sites are normally run by people with lived experience. They will be very well trained and will have three rotating staff and a peer on every day,” said Porter.

Having a safe consumption site is no different than going to drink at a bar, says Ashton Manktelow, an Outreach Worker with Mainline, a health promotion organization dedicated to supporting people who use substances through harm reduction programs.

“A bar in itself is a safe consumption site. You can go there, have a beer, as many as you like. And, in the event that you get too intoxicated there’s someone there to look after you.” he said.

“We’ve had more overdose deaths in Canada than COVID deaths and we believe that’s due to a toxic drug supply all over Canada and especially here in the Atlantic provinces.”

Last year, 50 people in the province died from opioid overdoses according to Nova Scotia Health.

“One life is too much. If it can be prevented then put the services in place, right? We have naloxone. It’s flooding the streets but how long did we go without naloxone? How many lives did we lose before naloxone?” said Porter.

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Porter says this is a step in the right direction — also being able to provide a safe supply.

“It gives us a leg up on safe supply. So you know our chief of police has very verbally said that you know, an OPS needs safe supply to go hand in hand.”

Porter said there are still some logistics left to figure out before opening but she is hopeful the site will open at some point in January.

Click to play video: 'Nova Scotia marks International Overdose Awareness Day'
Nova Scotia marks International Overdose Awareness Day

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