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Outcry Leads Ontario to Reverse Decision to Freeze Number of Overdose Prevention Sites

Country Correspondents: Roosa Tikkanen, Danielle Rodin

In the summer of 2018, the Ontario government announced that it was freezing the number of new overdose prevention sites until a review of the effectiveness of these facilities had been conducted. The move led to protests by more than 800 health care providers and 120 advocacy groups, including the Canadian Medical Association. These advocates called the move “potentially fatal” and “unnecessary,” referring to evidence showing that supervised consumption sites reduce fatal overdoses, the spread of HIV and hepatitis C, and public drug use. In October, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliot announced plans to continue funding these sites, stating that “the evidence clearly demonstrated that these sites were necessary.” In 2017, 1,261 people died from an opioid overdose in Ontario, up from 867 in 2016.

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