(THUNDER BAY, ON) – The safe injection site that opened in Thunder Bay on Simpson Street had much public disappointment when they initially opened due to the proximity of it being so close to Ogden school. What many people failed to understand is that by having the site close to the school, the hope was that people would stop using the school yard to shoot drugs and would head over to the new injection site.
Other people had concerns that the hours and days they were open were not sufficient, as it was regular business hours Monday to Friday. This, too, can be presumed to be focusing their limited resources on deterring drug use in the school yard during school hours.
Juanita Lawson, CEO of the NorWest Community Health Centre has announced that the safe injection site will now be open on Saturdays and soon, in the new year, expand to Sundays. The project has limited amounts of funding and ideally would be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This is likely the long term goal.
The safe injection site is not only used to provide a safe location for drug users to consume their drugs while being monitored by a medical professional but is also used as a way to connect active drugs users with resources to begin a path to sobriety, should they choose to do so. They offer many treatment services and can often fast-track wait times to get into those programs.
It’s easy to understand that in a time of an opioid-crisis, like Thunder Bay and many city’s across the nation are in, preventing as many overdoses and deaths from happening is a crucial service.
The service has also been rebranded to Path525 and focuses on safe injection, harm reduction and treatment. Having treatment services readily available to drug users is an important cornerstone to addressing the substance abuse issues in Thunder Bay.
Numbers have not been released that show how many overdoses the injection site has dealt with since opening or how many people are using the service.