News from Doug Draper & the Ontario’s Provincial Legislature
Posted August 13th, 2018 on Niagara At Large
It didn’t take long.
Just days after St. Catharines NDP MPP Jennie Stevens and the Niagara city’s mayor, Walter Sendzik, asked Ontario Premier Doug Ford if he “supports a safe injection site for St. Catharines,” and urged him to follow through on former Liberal government plans to set one up, Ford and his Health Minister, Christine Elliott, have announced that they are putting the plan on hold while they “review its merits”
The shelving of this site – the type of which has proven effective in other regions of North America for helping people with drug addictions – follows news from Niagara’s public health department this spring that there has been a 90 per cent spike in drug overdose deaths in Niagara over a one year period in 2016 and 2017.
One Niagara regional councillor, George Marshall from Welland, called the spike in overdose deaths here “staggering “and an epidemic.”
The decision to place moving forward with help centres for this crisis on hold may be good news for Ford supporters who want to see public services slashed to pay for tax cuts, but others are reacting negatively to the news.
“It’s hard to underestimate just how harmful this is,” said James Hutt, an organizer of Overdose Prevention Ottawa where the group had lobbied for an overdose prevention site like the ones planned for St. Catharines, Toronto and Thunder Bay. “The Conservatives are taking away one of the few resources that are keeping people alive in the middle of a public health emergency.”
The Ontario New Democratic Party circulated the following response earlier this October 13th –
Doug Ford threatens lives by cancelling new overdose prevention sites
QUEEN’S PARK – Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath says Doug Ford’s decision to halt the opening of planned overdose prevention sites flies in the face of all advice from experts, community members, and volunteers, and risks the lives of Ontarians struggling with addiction.
“Late on Friday, the government ordered a halt to previously approved overdose prevention sites. The Premier is interfering with local health care experts and front line workers, who have been crystal clear: these sites save lives,” said Horwath.
Doctor David Juurlink, the head of clinical pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Toronto, has said: “These places save lives, connect people to addiction care, reduce the spread of HIV and hepatitis C, and save the health system money. We need more of these sites, not fewer.”
New Democrats have worked with community members and medical experts to support the development and expansion of overdose prevent sites, as an opioid addiction crisis sweeps through communities across the province. Ford’s Conservatives have slashed millions of dollars in funding earmarked for addiction and mental health services, leaving Ontarians struggling to access the services they urgently need.
“People can’t get treatment if they are dead,” said Horwath.
“Why is the Premier putting lives at risk? How much more evidence does the Premier need, and how many people will he let die until he is satisfied?”
Here is a story on this issue circulated earlier this August 13th, 2018 on CBC – https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/overdose-prevention-site-ontario-ottawa-1.4782707 .
Niagara At Large also posted a story on this issue earlier this August 13. Click here to read – https://niagaraatlarge.com/2018/08/13/ontarios-ford-conservatives-backward-priorities-leave-vulnerable-st-catharines-niagara-communities-in-limbo/ .
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