Toronto Overdose Prevention Society

$136,068 of $250,000 goal

Raised by 1,042 people in 15 months
The Toronto Overdose Prevention Society fund will support Overdose Action Toronto and its efforts to draw attention to the escalating overdose epidemic that is killing our beloved Torontonians. Overdose Action Toronto consists of key stakeholders in harm reduction including people who use drugs, peers, frontline harm reduction workers and advocates. This fund will also support direct actions aimed at increasing awareness among citizens of Toronto about the preventable nature of overdose deaths.

This fund also will support work of the Toronto Harm Reduction Alliance and Toronto Harm Reduction Worker's Union, as well as Overdose Action Toronto.
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Moss Park OPS is in need of donations of socks, mittens, gloves, scarves, hats, and rain ponchos. No clothing donations please! Drop off at 134 Sherbourne Tuesday-Sunday from 12-7pm. Thank you for the ongoing support!
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303 TORONTONIANS HAVE DIED. Please join us tonight for a MARCH & VIGIL - Monday, October 15th, 2018, 6 PM. START: Regent Park CHC, 465 Dundas Street East (@ Parliament) MARCH TO: Street Health, 338 Dundas Street East (@ Sherbourne) END AT: Moss Park OPS, 134 Sherbourne Street (@ Dundas)

Three hundred and three people died from opioid overdose in Toronto in 2017, which is a 63% increase compared to 2016 and a 121% increase compared to 2015.

As our community struggles to respond to this crisis and cope with the tragic and preventable loss of loved ones the provincial government has stalled response efforts by initiating an unnecessary review of Overdose Prevention Site (OPS) services. Overdose Prevention sites are evidence-based services. They offer a stigma-free and caring environment where people can access healthcare, referrals, supplies and safety. Overdose Prevention Sites save lives.

The provincial review of OPS’s has delayed the opening of new and previously approved sites across the province. It has left existing sites in a precarious situation and has halted important discussion about other essential resources needed to combat the epidemic of opioid related deaths. This unnecessary review will contribute to the loss of more lives.

Please join us as we come together in grief and rage to mourn our loved ones and demand that the Ontario government:

1. Extend funding to ensure that all OPS’s in Ontario can operate on a long-term basis with adequate hours, staffing and a range of services;

2. Reinstate the application and approval process for organizations across the province looking to open OPS's and immediately open ‘paused’ sites that were already approved;

3. Involve those with lived experience to identify and operationalize realistic, evidence-based strategies that are necessary to effectively address the overdose crisis, including ensuring that people have access to adequate income support, safe affordable housing, and responsive, non-judgmental, and holistic healthcare;

4. End the war on people who use drugs by calling on the federal government to decriminalize drug use, and shift resources from criminalization to provision of health services, including rapidly developing prescription heroin and hydromorphone programs across the province.
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This was a very difficult decision for us to make. We are closing the Parkdale OPS. Thank you to everyone who has been supportive. Especially people of Parkdale. We are still actively fundraising to support our ongoing advocacy efforts.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE-– October 9th, 2018 -

On Wednesday, October 10th, the Parkdale OPS will close down the tents operating in Dunn Avenue Parkette. Drawing on our experience in the last several weeks in the park, and from Moss Park last year, we know that October’s rain and winds make it difficult to continue safely operating in tents. For example, on Sunday night, the Parkdale OPS tents could not be set up due to high winds that were blowing the walls off the tent and overturning it in the middle of the park, making it unsafe to open and impossible to support people at risk of overdose.

“We are not taking this decision lightly, but the changing weather and most importantly, the unwillingness of the current government to work with community members trying to save lives calls for different strategies.We had hoped to have a resolution to this issue by this point, but given the 9-week ongoing refusal of the current provincial government to recognize this urgent need, we are left with no choice but to close the tents,” said Steph Massey of the Toronto Overdose Prevention Society.

Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre had received approval and was planning on opening an OPS in a trailer at the health centre in August 2018. This is where the community has continuously indicated that they want an OPS in Parkdale to be located. The approval of this site was based on a demonstrated need, and a clear plan provided by the organization that they have the knowledge and expertise to provide this service. However, since the government’s “pause” in August, this trailer has sat, fully-stocked and unused, while volunteers set up tents a few blocks away daily.

“Overdose Prevention Sites are essential health services, meeting a vital need within communities during this overdose crisis. They belong in community health centres, in the organizations where people who use drugs access services, and in the buildings where they live. We need to be expanding, rather than scaling back these life-saving services in this ongoing overdose crisis. But we cannot continue to provide essential life-saving service in parks or on a volunteer basis, while all levels of government continue to equivocate and pass the buck,” said Zoe Dodd of the Toronto Overdose Prevention Society.

As the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s so-called ‘evidence-review’ enters its 9th week, it is clear that Doug Ford’s government does not care about the health of people in Ontario. Premier Ford has already signaled that he will make decisions based on ideology, ignoring the evidence, need within the community and denying the effectiveness of these services in saving lives. The 9-week pause on the opening of OPS in Parkdale, St. Catharines, and Thunder Bay, and the refusal of the Ministry of Health to process the applications for 5 other sites in hard-hit areas across the province, demonstrates how this government has abandoned their responsibility for the health and lives of Ontarians.

Currently, 3 people die preventable deaths from opioid overdose every day in Ontario – an estimated 189 people have died since the provincial government started this evidence review 9 weeks ago. While the provision of health care is a provincial responsibility, the provincial government has repeatedly shown bad faith and is stalling this process in Ontario, resulting in preventable lives lost. Because of this, the federal government must step up instead of continuing to stand by and wait.

We therefore call on the federal government to:

1) Immediately provide interim exemptions and funding to OPS in Ontario that have already been approved (based on demonstrated need and evidence) in Parkdale, St. Catharines, and Thunder Bay, to allow them to open as planned as soon as possible.

2) Conduct an expedited review process for the 5 OPS that have submitted applications to the Ontario government and have not heard anything on the status of their applications for the last 9 weeks, to allow them to open as quickly as possible in this public health emergency.

More people will continue to die if the province turns its back on Ontarians and the federal government hesitates. We will continue to work with communities across Ontario to advocate and organize to prevent overdose deaths. But the response should not be left to unfunded volunteers within the community, while health services are stalled by the refusal of all levels of government to take urgent action.
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This long weekend, we are grateful for the opportunity to care for people who use drugs and to be in community with them. As we await the provincial decision on overdose prevention sites, we recall all of the lives we have saved and continue to save and remember those we have lost to this preventable crisis. We will continue to fight for people who use drugs and work towards decriminalization. Thank you for your support.
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$136,068 of $250,000 goal

Raised by 1,042 people in 15 months
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