Barrie Health Officials Withdraw Supervised Consumption Site Application

A Difficult Decision Amidst Ongoing Opioid Crisis

Application Withdrawn After Long Wait
After over two years of waiting for provincial funding approval, the Simcoe County branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) has withdrawn its application for a supervised consumption site (SCS) in Barrie. Dr. Valerie Grdisa, CEO of CMHA Simcoe County, described the decision as “very difficult,” citing the ongoing expense of maintaining the proposed site on Innisfil Street without provincial support.

Endorsed but Unfunded
The application for the SCS, endorsed by Barrie’s previous city council in June 2021, received federal approval in September 2022. However, repeated requests for funding from the Ontario Ministry of Health went unanswered, leading to the decision to withdraw.

Provincial Review and Impact
The delay was partly due to a provincial review of SCS facilities initiated by the Ford government, which put all pending and new applications on hold. This review followed a shooting outside an SCS in Toronto.

Essential Services on Hold
An SCS provides a safe space and sterile equipment for individuals to use pre-obtained drugs under healthcare supervision. The lack of such a facility in Barrie is concerning, as the region continues to face a severe opioid crisis. In May 2024 alone, 16 suspected drug-related deaths occurred, and from January to mid-June 2024, there were 26 suspected drug-related deaths in Barrie and surrounding areas.

Community Efforts and Future Plans
Despite withdrawing the application, CMHA Simcoe County and the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit remain committed to addressing the opioid crisis. They continue to work with local health and community service providers to find alternative solutions and raise public awareness.

Importance of CTS Sites
Dr. Lisa Simon, associate medical officer of health, emphasised the importance of CTS sites in preventing serious harm to individuals who use drugs and improving public safety by reducing discarded drug paraphernalia and public drug use.

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