Overdose prevention site permits set to expire while Ford stays silent

TORONTO — Doug Ford has yet to confirm which of the province’s overdose prevention sites (OPS) will be permitted to stay open, with all currently operating OPS sites’ licenses set to expire on Jan. 31, less than a week away — leaving frontline health care providers to worry if their life-saving operations will be interrupted.

Ford has caused uncertainty about OPS sites by forcing a province-wide restriction on the number of sites, allowing just 21 to operate, regardless of need.

“There isn’t a single community in Ontario that’s been spared the anguish and suffering caused by the opioid crisis,” said Bhutila Karpoche, the NDP critic for Mental Health and Addictions. “Addiction tears families apart and takes lives. For the thousands of Ontarians struggling with opioid addiction, and for their loved ones, OPS locations have been a lifeline, literally.” 

Ford’s cap on the number of sites has pit communities against one another and forced front-line health care workers to spend time and resources focused on the paperwork they needed to compete for a license.

Ford has said he was ‘dead against’ overdose prevention sites and is still refusing to declare the opioid crisis to be a public health emergency. With the deadline just days away and Ford and his ministers keeping silent, concern is growing that current licenses will expire before new ones are issued.

"Why is Ford delaying the go-ahead to keep saving lives?” Karpoche asked.

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