OPS didn’t need to be paused to pick new name: NDP

NDP Mental Health and Addictions critic Bhutila Karpoche said Monday that while it’s a relief that Doug Ford has been convinced to allow Overdose Prevention Sites to operate, putting an arbitrary cap on the number of sites allowed is not a welcome move.

“Addictions tear families apart, and ruin lives. About 200 people have died from preventable overdoses just since Mr. Ford’s review of Overdose Prevention Sites started,” said Karpoche. “For Mr. Ford to halt progress on lifesaving consumption sites in order to spend months coming up with a new name and an arbitrary cap on the number of sites – that’s not right.”

There are 18 sites currently operating in Ontario and three sites – in Parkdale, Thunder Bay and St. Catharines – that were on pause. Thunder Bay, which had its sanctioned site paused, had already applied to open a second site over the summer. All existing sites and proposed sites will now have to reapply to the province.

“Capping the number of sites at 21 and forcing all existing sites and proposed sites to reapply means Mr. Ford is pitting communities against one another to compete for the overdose prevention help they need,” said Karpoche.

“The evidence is clear: overdose prevention sites save lives, which means people can go on to get the treatment they need and build the life they want. Mr. Ford should never have stopped harm reduction workers from doing their life-saving jobs, and he shouldn’t be imposing arbitrary caps on that work, now.”

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