It appears the provincial government is reducing funding for a safe injection site in London.
Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health has sent a letter to the city’s health unit says it will not fund the location at 446 York St.
Extensive consultations were undertaken by the city for more than a year before it was selected as a permanent location for the safe consumption site.
Councillor Shawn Lewis believes the province has overstepped with this decision.
“All of the work that went into this, all the community consultations, all the efforts to find sites. It's not like there are a lot of sites in London to choose from and now the province is going to just chuck that work aside,” says Lewis. “We need to let the municipalities do the job that municipal governments were elected to do."
There have been allegations that the decision is the result of political pressure put on Premier Doug Ford.
But London mayor Ed Holder says he has received assurances from Health Minister Christine Elliott that the province “remains fully committed to funding the cost of at least one permanent supervised consumption site in London.”
The mayor’s comments indicate the current temporary site at 186 King Street could be made permanent.
The subject of safe injection sites has been a hot button issue in the City of Windsor.
The Windsor Overdose Prevention Society has opened overdose prevention sites in undisclosed locations since the death of 17-year-old Josh Chouinard last month from an apparent overdose.
Mayor Drew Dilkens and Police Chief Al Frederick do not support safe injection sites, but they both suggest a decision to open one in Windsor is up to the provincial government.
Last year, the Chair of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit Gary McNamara, said he supported a site. But he also noted the province has capped the number allowed across Ontario at 21.
The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit has a link on their website for available information and assistance if you or someone you know is in need of addiction support and treatment.
According to Public Health Ontario, 28 people in Windsor-Essex died in the first nine months of 2018 from apparent opioid overdoses.
The data also shows 36 opioid-related deaths in 2017. That compares to 37 in 2016 and 24 in 2015.