The Ontario government has decided to keep overdose prevention and supervised consumption sites and repurpose them as “consumption and treatment services.”
Health Minister Christine Elliott announced the news Monday morning at Queen’s Park, calling the changes an “enhanced approach to treatment services.”
However, the new services won’t come into effect until January 2019.
“Services provided under the new Consumption and Treatment Services model would better address the physical and mental health as well as social needs of people addicted to opioids and other drugs,” said Elliott in a statement.
Elliott says the new delivery model will provide a pragmatic approach to overdose prevention by focusing on getting people the help that they need by connecting them to treatment.
The new delivery model would not only be equipped to treat overdoses, but it would also include an enhanced and necessary focus on connecting people who use drugs to primary care, treatment and rehabilitation, and other health and social services.
Under the new model, organizations would need to apply to provide treatment and rehabilitation services, and would also need to offer connections to health and social services, including primary care, mental health supports, housing, and employment.
Before and after each site is selected, consultations would be held to ensure the opinions and concerns of communities are heard.
A statement from Elliott also says sites would need to have a plan in place to ensure community concerns are addressed on an ongoing basis.
While this news has been received with support, many overdose prevention groups and supporters remain skeptical on what to expect with the new services.
Relieved, frustrated, confused, exasperated—does this mean all #SCS and #OPS need to reapply? To do (in many cases, re-do) community consultations? What happens now? “Consumption & Treatment Services would replace the former Supervised Consumption and Overdose Prevention models”?
— TO HR Alliance (@NoHarmToronto) October 22, 2018
No additional funding. No additional sites approved. The name will be changed. And the focus will be changed. More bureaucracy will be imposed. Consultation required. Pop-up OPS will be shut down. Why do media make it sound like OPS have been saved? https://t.co/NRFv5CiUuj
— Marilou Gagnon RNPhD (@mlgagnon_XVII) October 22, 2018
End of the overdose prevention site model in Ontario. Low barrier, flexible, necessary to respond to the overdose crisis. My heartaches for those who wanted to open these models 💔
— Zoë Dodd (@ZoeDodd) October 22, 2018