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Ontario Health Centres Vote to Unanimously Support the Development of Supervised Injection Services in the Province
Members of the Association of Ontario Health Centres (AOHC) – including Somerset West Community Health Centre – voted unanimously at the AOHC Annual General Meeting on June 7 to adopt a resolution in support of Supervised Injection Services (SIS), which calls on all levels of government to aid efforts to expand harm reduction services in the face of a growing overdose epidemic in communities across the province.
"This resolution is about our rights as Canadian citizens to have the choice of promoting and protecting both individual rights to life, liberty and security of the person, and the health and security of the broader public," said David Gibson, Executive Director of Sandy Hill Community Health Centre (CHC) in Ottawa, who moved that the resolution be adopted.
" 'Drug addiction is not a moral choice. It is an illness that essentially negates the notion of choice altogether.' Those were the words written by Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin in 2011," Gibson continued. "This resolution is about our united courage to act, our collective courage to speak out, and our commitment to offer hope and a new opportunity to the people of Ontario."
Lynne Raskin, Executive Director of South Riverdale CHC in Toronto, echoed Gibson's comments while seconding the motion: "We are talking about an opportunity to impact the health and lives of people who are our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children, neighbours and colleagues." She went on to cite the many benefits of SIS, included reduced numbers of overdose deaths, better uptake of detox services, and reduced costs and impact on the surrounding community.
Somerset West Community Health Centre proudly supports the development of supervised injection services (SIS) in Ottawa and across the province. For further information about the SIS resolution, visit www.aohc.org/SIS-resolution.
A supervised injection service (SIS) is a health service that provides a safe and hygienic environment where people can inject pre-obtained drugs under the supervision of trained staff. In Canada, nurses provide this supervision. The first SIS opened 30 years ago in Switzerland, and there are now 90 SIS sites worldwide. In Ontario, community health centres in Ottawa and Toronto are working to implement SIS, and needs assessments are underway in London and Thunder Bay. SIS programs have been proven in peer-reviewed studies in Canada and worldwide to: reduce the number of overdose deaths, increase the rate of uptake of detox and addiction services, and help to create safer communities.