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POL 3160 Briefing Note

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Political Science
Miriam Levitt

Briefing Note: Implementation of Safe Injection Sites in Ontario By: Brandon Diamond Student #: 5710000 Date: October 18th, 2012 Professor: Miriam Levitt Briefing Note: Push for Safe Injection Sites (SIS) in Canada Before addressing our point of interest regarding the funding of Safe Injection Sites (SIS) in Ontario, the following is an introduction to SIS taken from the first legally supervised injection site in North America's website, Insite, " Since opening its doors in 2003, Insite has been a safe, health-focused place where people inject drugs and connect to health care services – from primary care to treat disease and infection, to addiction counselling and treatment, to housing and community supports. Insite is North America’s first legal supervised injection site. The BC Ministry of Health Services provides operational funding for Insite through Vancouver Coastal Health, which operates the facility in conjunction with PHS Community Services Society. Insite operates on a harm-reduction model, which means it strives to decrease the adverse health, social and economic consequences of drug use without requiring abstinence from drug use." 1 Issue: On the topic of Safe Injection Sites (SIS), many problems and concerns arise not only through public opinions, but there are major legislative opinions that are tested. Are Safe Injection Sites worth it? Or are they just making the use of narcotic substances easier for the public? Due to our "zero tolerance" thought process on drugs, this practice is viewed as encouragement for drug use 2 . Unfortunately for Insite, the first legislated SIS mentioned above, and any other related establishments, they have received enormous backlash concerning the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, more importantly Section 56. We will go into more detail concerning Section 56 in our next section, but for now our main concern is to ensure that this Section 56 exemption is 1"Services - InSite - Vancouver Coastal Health." Insite - Supervised Injection Site. Vancouver Coastal Health. Web. 6 Oct. 2012. . 2Beirness, Douglas J., Rebecca Jesseman, Rita Notarandrea, Michel Perron. (2008). Harm Reduction: What's In a Name? upheld due to its legitimacy and purpose in today's society. The point of this note is to further emphasise the importance and benefits to our society that Safe Injection Sites can have. Background: " There are currently more than 12,000 users registered at InSite. 2010 user statistics, from January 1 to December 31, 2010: - 312,214 visits to the site by 12,236 unique individuals - An average of 855 visits daily, up to a maximum of 1,110 visits daily - An average of 587 injections daily - 221 overdose interventions with no fatalities - 3,383 clinical treatment interventions - 26% of participants were women - 17% of participants identified as Aboriginal - Principle substances reported were heroin (36% of instances), cocaine (32%) and morphine (12%) - 5,268 referrals to other social and health services, the vast majority of them were for detox and addiction treatment - 458 admissions to OnSite detox" 3 These stats are astounding for a project that has received so much legal backlash and has been the hot topic for heated debates in the past. Looking at those numbers, a key relationship that must be pointed out is that between the number of unique individuals that have visited the site, and the number of patients that were referred to other social and health services, mostly for treatment. We can see that just under 50% of the total visitors (5,268 patients) were referred to other health services which include detox and addiction treatment. 3 "Services - InSite - Vancouver Coastal Health." Insite - Supervised Injection Site. Vancouver Coastal Health. Web. 6 Oct. 2012. . One of the main goals of a program like this is to provide a healthy and safe place, where the chance of spreading diseases by needle is practically eliminated. These programs also provide the help of trained nurses who are able to step in and assist when necessary, especially in the extreme case of an overdose. "Between 2003 and 2010, InSite had 1418 overdoses, all of which were intervened by a nurse resulting in zero lives lost. Resulting in an approximate 35% decrease 4 in deaths from overdose in downtown Vancouver." These facts just go to show that with the nurses provided by a program like this, we are efficiently able to monitor the SIS patients during their visits and even save thousands of lives that would otherwise be lost to overdoses on the streets. In September 2001, Canada’s federal, provincial, and territorial ministers of health “acknowledged
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