Fate of St. Catharines overdose prevention site remains unclear

The waiting continues for a St. Catharines based organization that had hoped to open a supervised injection site in the city.

Positive Living Niagara had gained unanimous support from city council and official approval to open an overdose prevention site in St. Catharines before the Ford government announced they were putting a pause on all new sites pending the outcome of a review.

Since then, Positive Living Niagara's plans have been left in limbo.

"We really can't do to much of anything," Executive Director Glen Walker says. "The Ministry of Health and the Province of Ontario were the sole funder of these programs, and as well, they were the ones getting permission from Health Canada to allow us to have these illegal substances on site."

The review continues at a provincial level, with Health Minister Christine Elliott putting out a release stating, "I have reviewed the latest data, evidence and current site models, visited various sites and held consultations. I am now in the process of finalizing my recommendations. This is an important determination that we need to get right; and one that must not be rushed."

Originally, the recommendations were expected by the end of September.

Walker says the delay shows how divisive the issue is within the ministry.

"It seems to be a lot more political than clinical or from a research study. A lot of emotional response is going on."

The province is asking the federal government to extend the exemption under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act that would allow the sites to continue operating in Ontario while the review wraps up.