Harm reduction measures should not come with hard cap

Green Party of Ontario leader and Guelph MPP, Mike Schreiner, issued the following statement on the PC decision regarding safe consumption sites:

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“I’m calling on the government to rethink their decision to put a hard cap on the number of safe consumption sites.

While I am pleased that safe injection sites will be kept open, I am extremely disappointed in the decision to place a hard cap on the number of sites. This disappointing reality makes this an announcement with mixed results.

It’s good that the Minister of Health and Premier have finally put evidence over ideology and given the green light for proven harm-reduction measures to continue operating.

The reality is and has always been that safe injection sites save lives. This is a good reversal from a dangerous and anti-science position voiced by the Premier during the election campaign.

But limiting the total number of sites where people can access these life-saving services is wrong. It is also wrong to prohibit temporary sites that save lives.

Today, the Minister of Health herself acknowledged the overdose crisis is getting worse, so how can she can square this reality with her decision to put a moratorium on new sites?

A hard cap means that where this crisis grows worse, communities will be prevented from opening new sites to help at-risk populations and offer life-saving services.

Given the Minister agrees that the opioid epidemic is getting worse, I am calling on her to lift the cap and allow all communities to respond to this crisis with proven harm-reduction measures.

It is also unfortunate that communities and healthcare practitioners have been operating in limbo these past months. This delay has hurt marginalized people the most. How many lives were lost during this delay?

The Minister acknowledged today that this was an exercise to alleviate the Premier’s skepticism towards overdose prevention sites. An effective government should not have to waste time and resources convincing its leader of the facts. Putting ideology before evidence has real world consequences.”