With evidence to show it will be used and a public consultation process that showed a strong desire to support those addicted to opioid drugs, the Regional HIV / AIDS Connection (RHAC) and the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) have submitted an application to Health Canada to open a supervised consumption facility in the city.
The proposed site would be located at 372 York Street, just east of London’s downtown, providing a place for those who have obtained drugs to consume them under the supervision and care of trained medical professionals and skilled harm reduction workers. The facility would also include an after-care area, where clients could interact with staff who could then link them to community supports and services including counselling, treatment and housing.
“We’ve spoken to many people, from those who are addicted, to residents, local businesses and community partners; we’ve also heard from thousands of people online and what is clear is that our community desperately needs this kind of facility,” says Dr. Chris Mackie, Medical Officer of Health and CEO of the Middlesex-London Health Unit. “So many positives have already come as a result of the Temporary Overdose Prevention Site that opened in February, that I expect this permanent facility will not only save lives, but it will also change them forever for the better.”
Dr. Mackie added, “In light of the exciting announcement about an entrepreneurship hub at the London Free Press building, we have also opened a dialogue with the leadership of that project, and are open to adjusting these plans to help ensure a positive impact on their project.”
Health Canada has so far approved exemptions for nine Ontario sites, allowing for the creation of five permanent supervised consumption sites in Toronto and an additional four in Ottawa. Health Canada is also in the final stages of reviewing the application for a fifth facility in Ottawa.
“The location we’ve identified is close to several service providers who already work with people caught in the cycle of drug addiction; it is also in one of the areas that respondents to the feasibility study said they would use,” says Brian Lester Executive Director at Regional HIV / AIDS Connection. “Opening a permanent supervised consumption facility isn’t going to solve our local drug crisis, but it is going to help us manage it.”
No timeline has been set for the opening of London’s supervised consumption facility, however it is expected to take several months to complete the application review, prepare the space and hire staff. In the meantime, the Temporary Overdose Prevention Site at 186 King Street continues to provide supervised consumption services in downtown London.
Dan Flaherty, Communications Manager, Middlesex-London Health Unit,
519-663-5317 ext. 2469 or 519-617-0570 (cell.)
Dr. Chris Mackie, Medical Officer of Health and CEO, Middlesex-London Health Unit
Brian Lester, Executive Director, Regional HIV/AIDS Connection