It is always best to proceed with caution.
Recently, council was updated on an application to bring a consumption and treatment service site to Oshawa.
Last fall, the province introduced these sites as the model to replace the former supervised consumption service and overdose protection sites.
The presentation made to council was informative and well-explained.
If this project moves forward, the site wouldn’t simply be a safe place for an addict to use their drugs, but as Paul McGary, director of mental health and addictions at Lakeridge Health told councillors, this model offers much more of a “wraparound” service setting.
The presentation was missing two key pieces – a proposed location and extensive community consultation.
Council held off giving its endorsement until they hear what the community thinks. This was the right decision. This isn’t leaning towards a yes or no, but the public’s voice should be heard before moving forward.
Whether a consumption and treatment service site is a right fit for Oshawa is to be determined.
It was, however, disheartening to hear some of the same old attitudes towards addiction.
These sites aren’t meant to cure people of their addiction overnight, they are there to provide a safe environment for addicts to use.
As noted by councillor Derek Giberson, the idea of using public money to provide a location for drug users to get high can be ‘jarring.”
But the opioid crisis is no longer something we only read about in the papers, or see on the evening news.
The effect of this can be seen in emergency departments, our parks, and right on the streets of this city.
Emergency visits are spiking, deaths are spiking. Everywhere you turn, there are discarded needles.
Whether consumption and treatment sites are the answer or not, we as a society have to stop looking at this opioid crisis as something that is only affecting the homeless, the poor, and what some people see as the bottom of the barrel of the mankind.
Anyone can get addicted to opioids, regardless of age, sex, religion or nationality. Action on the opioid crisis cannot be reactionary, but it cannot also be based on antiquated mindsets and stereotypes, because, with those, we’ll never get any further than we are now.