The Canadian Mental Health Association Simcoe County Branch is one step closer to opening a safe consumption and treatment site in Barrie, Ont., following approval from the federal government.
On Tuesday, the branch announced that it had received approval from Health Canada for an exemption to allow the use of illegal drugs at the proposed Consumption and Treatment Services site (CTS).
“We are pleased that Health Canada has granted this exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to operate a consumption and treatment service site in Barrie,” said Dr. Valerie Grdisa, chief executive officer of the Canadian Mental Health Association, Simcoe County Branch.
“This is a significant milestone in addressing the devastating impacts of the opioid crisis affecting our community.”
Health Officials say the proposed site at 11 Innisfil St., also known as 80 Bradford St., unit 940, will provide those in need with a safe, hygienic location where people can use illicit substances with the supervision of trained staff to reduce the risk of overdoses and infections.
The site also offers people using drugs access to other health and social services like mental health support, addiction treatment, primary care, and housing.
Barrie City Council members endorsed the use of the site at 80 Bradford St. in June of last year.
Before it can move forward, health officials are still waiting to hear from the Ministry of Health regarding the provincial application submitted in October 2021.
Between the start of the pandemic in March 2020 and March 2022, Canadian Mental Health Association, Simcoe County Branch reported 323 opioid-related deaths in the Simcoe Muskoka region.
More so, the data shows a 75 per cent increase or more than 182 opioid-related deaths compared with the 25 months before the pandemic.
“These statistics reflect the loss of valued community members who may have benefited from the compassionate, evidence-based health and social support of a CTS in their community,” the CMHA SCB said in a statement.
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