Ask Queen's Park to provide immediate funding for supervised injection services (SIS)
Thank you to the more than 750 people who have signed RNAO's action alert urging Premier Wynne to announce funding for SIS in Toronto and Ottawa. We are getting traction and that is why we ask those of you who haven't yet signed to please take a minute to add your voice to urge immediate funding for renovations at four prospective sites so that Health Canada's SIS approval process can move forward.
Every 13 hours, an opioid-related death occurs in Ontario. As in British Columbia, many of these deaths are from accidental overdoses linked to fentanyl. Supervised injection services (SIS) can prevent overdose deaths, but these services are not currently available in Ontario.
The evidence is conclusive: access to SIS will save lives. Providing a safer space where people can inject previously obtained drugs with access to nursing services has been proven to prevent deaths from overdose, decrease infections, and help people access other critical health and social services. In January, Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins sent letters to his federal counterpart Jane Philpott in support of SIS applications for Sandy Hill Community Health Centre in Ottawa and three locations in Toronto (South Riverdale Community Health Centre, Queen West-Central Toronto Community Health Centre, and The Works program at Toronto Public Health). At the time, media reported the province's intention to help fund these four SIS, but a formal announcement has still not been made.
Every day that funding is delayed means more people are dying. Toronto has asked the province for about $400,000 for renovations at the three health facilities and $1.8 million annually for operations. Renovations are expected to take several months and approval from Health Canada is pending on-site inspection of the renovated facilities. In 2013, the same year RNAO wrote to then-Health Minister Deb Matthews asking for provincial funding for SIS, there were 206 overdose deaths in Toronto. Preliminary figures for 2015 show that number increased to 253, with 81 per cent of overdose deaths classified as accidental.
The Ontario government must immediately announce funding for SIS in Ottawa and Toronto to complement existing health services and save lives.
Copies will be sent to:
- Premier Kathleen Wynne
- Patrick Brown, PC Leader
- Andrea Horwath, NDP Leader
- John Fraser, Parliamentary Assistant to Minister of Health and Long-Term Care
- Jeff Yurek, PC Health Critic
- France Gélinas, NDP Health Critic