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Ford: supervised site reviews ‘shouldn’t be too much longer’

The provincial review of supervised consumption sites has kept funding from Sudbury’s The Spot, which is facing closure at the end of the month
In this file photo, Premier Doug Ford speaks at a press conference in Sudbury back in February.

Premier Doug Ford told media on March 11 that a review of the supervised consumption sites in Ontario, “shouldn’t be too much longer.”

Ford was asked about the sites at an unrelated press conference on March 11 in Essex Country, near Windsor.  

Windsor’s supervised consumption site, Safepoint, was forced to close in the absence of provincial funding. As it stands, Sudbury’s The Spot could face the same shutdown

 "It's actually funny you say that. I was speaking to my office today about that,” Ford said, referring to the consumption site's ongoing reviews. The province is pointing to a shooting that took place at a consumption site in Toronto in July as a reason to re-evaluate every site in Ontario, but some have said the pause is an attempt to end the harm reduction sites.

Ford said of the supervised sites, "it's important for the community, and if it's important for the community, then we'll get it done, but it shouldn't be too much longer."

Michael Tibollo, the associate minister of mental health and addictions, estimated a two-month timeline for the review two months ago. 

For The Spot, “too much longer” can’t be anymore than March 29. That’s when the community donations running the site for months will dry up. 

The Spot’s application was submitted 30 months ago, in 2021, prior to the review’s beThe Spot’s manager of harm reduction, Amber Fritz, has said it’s unclear why the application has taken so long to process, even before the pause. 

There are at least five submitted applications for supervised consumption sites that have been delayed: Barrie has been waiting 28 months, Windsor, 19 months, and Timmins (13 months.) 

Timmins is set to close March 31, and Sudbury is currently running on community donations, which will last until March 29. 

Of the regions with submitted, but still pending supervised site applications, three communities have among the highest opioid mortality rates in the province: Timmins, Windsor and Sudbury. Each has an opioid toxicity mortality rate that is nearly three times the provincial average. 

There are currently no supervised consumption services between Sudbury to Thunder Bay.

Ford suggested he's not looking to change the total number of sites across the province, which his government has capped at 21.

"In total, we said there'd be 21 sites. We're at 17, so there's four more to go," he said. According to the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, no new sites have opened in the six years under the Ford government. 

The imminent closure of the supervised consumption sites in Greater Sudbury and Timmins prompted the coalition and representatives of several Ontario supervised consumption sites to share an open letter penned to the provincial government, and to call on the health minister to meet with them before March 13. 

The March 5 letter also issues a deadline of March 29 to approve funding. 

In their letter, the CDPC stated “the tragedy of an isolated instance of gun violence in Toronto must not prevent people in diverse locations across the province from accessing the vital health services any longer.” 

—With files from Jack Hauen, The Trillium reporter Jenny Lamothe covers the diverse communities of Sudbury, especially the vulnerable or marginalized, including the Black, Indigenous, newcomer and Francophone communities, as well as 2SLGBTQ+ and the downtown core.

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Jenny Lamothe

About the Author: Jenny Lamothe

Jenny Lamothe is a reporter with She covers the diverse communities of Sudbury, especially the vulnerable or marginalized.
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