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More Safe-Inject Sites Recommended in Canada

Will new research lead Ontario's politicians to sanction safe-injection sites for drug users, like the one in Vancouver?

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A client at Vancouver's safe injection
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By McCarton Ackerman

04/12/12

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Legalized heroin injection sites for Toronto and Ottawa are being recommended by a new study from St. Michael's Hospital and the University of Toronto. The researchers say the sites would improve the health of people who use drugs by preventing HIV and Hepatitis C infections. Vancouver is currently home to the only legal safe injection site in North America, but the recommendations of the four-year study call for three sites in Toronto and two in Ottawa at undetermined locations. The findings could mean Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, who was adamantly opposed to having one of the sites in Ontario last September, will be open to changing his mind. "When it comes to this kind of thing, we'll rely on the advice we get from our people like the chief medical officer of health, and if the police have advice that they wish to offer, we'll pay attention to that, too," he says. "I'll be open to the best advice available." However, while Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews thanked the researchers for the study, she said the government was still not endorsing the idea in Ontario and that "we have no plans to pursue supervised sites at this time." Ottawa and Toronto are home to half of Ontario's drug users. Ottawa has the highest HIV rate in the province and Toronto has the largest number of drug users.

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