News / Toronto

Toronto suburbs need supervised injection sites, too: advocates

Healthcare providers in Scarborough say proposed sites too far away from their communities

File -- An injection kit is shown at Insite, a safe injection facility in Vancouver, on May 6, 2008.

The Canadian Press

File -- An injection kit is shown at Insite, a safe injection facility in Vancouver, on May 6, 2008.

The city is considering creating three supervised injection sites in downtown Toronto, but community healthcare providers in Scarborough say drug users in the suburbs remain at risk.

“We do serve a vulnerable population, some of them who could have serious drug abuse problems,” said Kim Cook, the vice president of community health at the Scarborough Centre for Healthy Communities.

“Having a safe injection site – at least one – would really help.”

The city’s board of health approved a proposal to integrate injection services into healthcare clinics at three locations – Queen West, Central Toronto and South Riverdale.

The locations were chosen based on high rates of intravenous drug use and associated high-risk behaviours, like overdoses and public injections, said a Toronto Public Health spokesperson.

Supervised sites have been proven to reduce overdose rates, as well as the spread of blood-borne diseases like hepatitis and HIV.

However, a feasibility study indicated users would not travel more than 10 blocks to access injection sites. That’s a problem for Scarborough, Cook said, as the Riverdale site is much further away.

“It’s a long distance away. Transportation is a huge barrier for most of these people,” she said.

In a statement to Metro, a Toronto Public Health spokesperson said there are no plans to add additional sites in the suburbs at this time.

According to a recent report, as many as 200 people die from overdoses every year in Toronto.