Injection sites encouraged

published on February 8, 2017 by MATT VIS in The Chronicle Journal

Even though supervised injection services have been deemed feasible for Thunder Bay, many questions need to be answered before a facility – or possibly two – can become a reality.

The results of a Supervised Injection Services feasibility study were presented Tuesday. The study recommends the city consider establishing at least two sites in Thunder Bay, one in each of the north and south cores.

Coun. Rebecca Johnson, chair of the Thunder Bay Drug Strategy, said public consultation will be required to see if there is support before any potential locations are examined.

“I think now we have to look at going to the community and talking to them,” Johnson said. “Then if we assume they will say move this forward, then we will have to look at actual sites. Do we know where that’s going to be at this point in time? No, but at the same point we do have some opportunities that have been presented to us that we’ll have to look at very closely.”

Johnson is hoping those next steps can be taken within the next year.

A supervised injection site would allow users to bring drugs they had obtained and inject them where safe syringes would be provided and health care professionals are on standby in event of overdose.

The feasibility study surveyed 200 people who reported injecting drugs within the past six months. It found that 69 per cent said they would use a supervised injection site while another 11 per cent said they might be willing to use a site.

Thomas Kerr, the study’s principal investigator and a research scientist at the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, said the sites can be a “win-win” for both injecting drug users as well as the broader public.

There is “no serious scientific debate” about the merits of a supervised site, he added.

“Communities are safer as a result of these facilities and deal with less public disorder related to injecting; and people who use drugs get the health care they need,” Kerr said.

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