Ontario government seeks extension on overdose prevention sites as it decides fate of facilities

TORONTO – The Ontario government is asking Ottawa to extend an exemption that would allow overdose prevention sites to continue operating in the province while it decides the fate of the facilities.

The province said this summer it was halting the opening of new overdose prevention sites while it conducted its review, and said it would announce its decision by the end of September.

Future of London’s overdose prevention site expected to be decided this weekend

Ontario’s health minister, Christine Elliott, said in a statement late Friday afternoon that she has received data on the sites and held consultations on the issue, and is in the process of finalizing her recommendations.

She did not say when a decision would be announced or how long of an extension she sought.

READ MORE: How a handful of pharmacists flooded Ontario’s streets with lethal fentanyl amid a national opioid crisis

Overdose prevention sites are approved by the province following a federal decision to grant the province an exemption under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. They are temporary facilities set up to address an immediate need in a community.

READ MORE: Drug user says ‘blood is on their hands’ regarding Doug Ford government’s ‘pause’ on safe injection sites

Safe injection sites, meanwhile, are more permanent locations approved by the federal government after a more extensive application process.

More than 3,800 people died from opioids in Canada in 2017, compared to 2,978 in 2016, according to the latest figures by Canada’s health agency published last June.

© 2018 The Canadian Press

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