Dawson: Bravo, Liberals. Canada and Ottawa Need Safe-Injection Sites

Article by Tyler Dawson, Ottawa Citizen

It’s too late to save the hundreds of Canadians who’ve already died this year from drug overdoses, but the Liberals’ proposed changes, which would make it easier to open safe-injection sites, will help cities come to grips with a crisis that’s cutting a tragic swath across the country. Absent full drug legalization (and the better health oversight it brings), the best we can do is try to minimize the harm of drug use.

“We need to take swift action on the opioid crisis to save lives,” said Health Minister Jane Philpott, having waited a year into her mandate to actually make it easier to open safe-injection sites.

The Liberals have proposed a five-step plan that, while repealing the more than two-dozen steps needed to open a safe-injection site, still maintains some troublesome elements from the last government’s policy, such as having to prove the need for a site (why wait for the body count to climb?) and gathering evidence about the effect on crime (rates haven’t gone up around injection sites already open).

More than 600 people have died in British Columbia from overdoses this year. Last week, Ottawa paramedics were reminded to wear gloves and masks just in case they come into contact with carfentanil, an opioid so powerful it’s used as an elephant tranquilizer.

This crisis exists at least partially because governments continue to criminalize drug use, meaning an unregulated and dangerous black market supplies drugs that can be unsafe. The Liberals will get plenty of congratulations for their proposed changes, and will as well once marijuana is legalized.

Read full article here.

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