Photo | The Toronto Star
Moss Park safe injection site still operating out of tent at three-month mark
On November 13th, the Toronto Overdose Prevention Society (TOPS) gathered at the Moss Park safe injection site for the its three month anniversary. A post on their Facebook page announced that they were commemorating the 93 overdoses that they had reversed or stopped in the 90 days since the site had been established.
The TOPS is still lobbying for government support, seeking to make their services more permanently established. The safe injection site continues to operate out of a tent in Moss Park. Earlier this month, the province provided a heated tent as an interim solution, however the organization remains entirely without government funding for materials or staff.
Leigh Chapman, research fellow at The Wilson Centre, established a GoFundMe page for the TOPS. A recent update on the page says “our needs remain high and we appreciate the ongoing support as we continue to advocate for indoor space, heat, shelter, and basic human rights for people who use drugs.”
The update continues, “we know that people die at the park when we’re not there. At least four people have died to date and we now have a memorial in the park to remember them. This crisis is urgent and we all need to feel compelled to act.”
The targeted $60k of funds raised by this page would go towards supporting Overdose Action Toronto, as well as “increasing awareness among citizens of Toronto about the preventable nature of overdose deaths.”
The Ottawa OPS closed down their site last week, citing lack of government support as the cause.
In the last year, the number of overdose-related emergency calls has risen by 28 percent. This led to a call from the Toronto Police Association to provide officers with naloxone kits, a drug that is used to reverse the effects of opioid overdose.
When asked about the UofT campus’ actions to prevent opioid overdose, the UofT media relations team says “all of our dons are trained in Standard First Aid and CPR Level C […] they have been instructed to call 911 and then campus police if they suspect an overdose or other kind of health emergency.”
Toronto Public Health provides a “take home naloxone program,” called POINT, through The Works. This program provides opioid users, and their friends and family with training to use naloxone in the treatment of an opioid overdose. Those trained receive a kit with two doses of the drug and the tools needed to administer it.