The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) has expressed happiness with the Toronto Board of Health which unanimously supported the next steps in opening three supervised injection services (SIS) locations in Toronto on July 4 at city hall.
These services would be integrated into facilities that already provide harm reduction at South Riverdale Community Health Centre, Toronto Public Health (The Works), and Queen West-Central Toronto Community Health Centre. By supporting the recommendations from the Medical Officer of Health Dr. David McKeown, which were based on public health evidence and broad community consultations, RNAO says the board has ledToronto in the right direction.
“We are one step closer to building a healthier city for everyone and helping to save lives,” said Doris Grinspun, RNAO’s chief executive officer (CEO) who spoke before city leaders during the board of health meeting. “Nurses will continue to stand behind values-driven, evidence-based and courageous initiatives that will ensure people are given timely, accessible and person-centred health services.”
RNAO was especially appreciative of the many community members who bravely shared their grief of losing loved ones and harrowing experiences due to drug overdoses. “The pleas of people who use drugs were especially poignant,” said Grinspun. By sharing these life experiences, those in attendance were better able to understand the individuals ‒ mothers, fathers, children, siblings, co-workers, friends ‒ behind the 258 Torontonians who died from overdose in 2014. RNAO says the need for supervised injection services is especially urgent given the number of deaths in Toronto due to overdose has increased by 77 per cent since 2004.
As a long-standing supporter of harm reduction strategies, RNAO urges Toronto city council to unanimously support the immediate implementation of SIS at its next meeting, which is scheduled for July 12 and 13. “SIS is a critical health service that is proven to save lives,” said Grinspun. “We must act swiftly before more lives are lost.”
RNAO is the professional association representing registered nurses, nurse practitioners, and nursing students in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has advocated for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses’ contribution to shaping the health-care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve. – CNW