Open Letter from Andrea Horwath: Premier Wynne Must Support Toronto's Effort to Establish Supervised-Injection Sites

Andrea Horwath sent the following open letter calling on Premier Wynne to support the efforts of Mayor Tory and Toronto City Councillors to establish three life-saving supervised-injection sites. Horwath said that the Province must do its part to reduce the harm of a nationwide overdose crisis by providing immediate funding and letters of support for this vital program.

Hon. Kathleen Wynne
Office of the Premier
Queen's Park
Toronto, ON M7A 1A1

Dear Premier Wynne:

I am writing to urge you to support – without further delay – Toronto’s effort to establish three supervised-injection sites.

Last July, Toronto City Council voted overwhelmingly to support the implementation of three supervised-injection sites at existing community health centres and public health facilities. As the number of overdose deaths increases across the country, the need for supervised-injection sites is all the more urgent.

The evidence from public health officials is clear: Supervised-injection sites will save lives in Toronto. But six months after Council voted in favour of this plan, people in Toronto are still waiting for the provincial government to do its part.

As the Toronto Early Warning and Alert Partnership meets today to address the growing overdose crisis, I urge you and the provincial government to step up and approve funding for Toronto’s supervised-injection sites. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has had six months to consider the application for one-time capital funding of $400,000 and annual operating funding of $1.8 million. I trust you will agree that this is a small price to pay to support a proven public health initiative that will save lives and reduce health system costs.

Furthermore, under the approval guidelines established by the former federal government, the City requires three letters of provincial support from the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, and Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services. While the letter of support has been provided by the Chief Medical Officer of Health, letters of support have not yet been received from either of your Ministers.

Action is needed now.

It should not take six months, in the face of a national overdose crisis, for the provincial government to approve funding and issue letters of support for the City of Toronto’s supervised-injection sites. Indeed, it is disappointing and incredibly frustrating to see inaction from the provincial government on a matter of urgent importance to the most vulnerable people in this city – our neighbours, our friends, and our loved ones.

I urge your government to act without further delay by committing to fully fund Toronto’s supervised injection sites and to immediately issue the two required letters of support from your Ministers.

Sincerely,

[signed in original]

Andrea Horwath

cc: Hon. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care