Hudson commits to opening safe injection site on P.E.I.

·2 min read
Supervised injection sites have naloxone kits on hand to counter fentanyl overdoses. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC - image credit)
Supervised injection sites have naloxone kits on hand to counter fentanyl overdoses. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC - image credit)

After questioning in the legislature Friday from Liberal Heath MacDonald, Prince Edward Island Health Minister Ernie Hudson has committed to opening a supervised injection for drug users in the province, but did not put a timeline on when that might happen.

Supervised injection sites can be found in most major cities across Canada. Staff do not supply or administer illegal drugs, but are there to supply clean needles, test a consumer's drugs for fentanyl, and to watch and help if anything goes wrong, such as an overdose. Depending on staffing, they might also offer other help for users, such as accessing social services and shelter.

In question period in the legislature Friday, Hudson said he personally thinks supervised injection sites are a good idea, and his government will more forward with opening one, but that he needs time to discuss implementation with experts.

"I do support it, I will move forward on this, I'm not going to stand here and give a date though," Hudson said.

"Are we going to have safe injection site harm reduction in the next week, in the next two weeks? No, that's not going to happen. And at the end of the day, what is this going to look like? I really couldn't say," Hudson said.

Hudson said he would be discussing the matter with groups such as the harm-reduction group PEERS Alliance (formerly AIDS P.E.I.).

Advocates for harm reduction on the Island have been calling on the government to create a supervised injection site as soon as possible.

Overdose deaths on P.E.I.

From January to September of last year, six people died of opioid overdoses on P.E.I., three of them involving fentanyl. A week ago, P.E.I.'s coroner said a young woman died after accidentally consuming cannabis laced with fentanyl.

Health Minister Ernie Hudson didn't make an announcement of a supervised consumption site on Friday, but under questioning he did commit to one.
Health Minister Ernie Hudson didn't make an announcement of a supervised consumption site on Friday, but under questioning he did commit to one. (P.E.I. Legislature)

Just last week in neighbouring New Brunswick, the government announced it plans to implement overdose prevention sites this year as part of a new mental health and addictions strategy.

A harm reduction group there, Ensemble Moncton, estimated the sites would each cost $100,000 to $300,000 a year to run, and would be less elaborate than a supervised injection site.

Some supervised injection sites, like one opened last year in Saskatoon, are in the same building as drop-in centres which offer coffee and food, and family and shelter supports.

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