Nurses call for injection site support during election campaign

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A coalition of nurses and nursing students hope to put injection sites on the agenda during the federal election campaign.

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The group called Nurses for Supervised Injection Services encourages others to vote for parties that support the creation of more sites across Canada.

The Conservative Party, which fought against Canada’s only supervised injection site for drug users in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, is the only major party not to support the expansion of such sites. The Conservative government has passed a law that proponents of the sites say creates barriers for communities opening injection sites similar to the one in Vancouver.

Marilou Gagnon, associate professor of nursing at the University of Ottawa, said nurses generally support supervised injection services because they “really understand why they are important and should be implemented.” There are over 280,000 registered nurses in Canada.

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She said the purpose of the campaign is to “mobilize the voices of nurses and nursing students” to draw attention to the importance of the issue during the campaign. It is also to remind nurses to “put on their nurse hats” when they vote, she said.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has said he wants such sites across Canada. NDP Thomas Mulcair also said he supported the supervised sites, as did the leaders of the Green Party and the Bloc Québécois.

However, a law recently passed by the Conservatives could make it more difficult to open such services in Ottawa and elsewhere.

Despite this, Luc Cormier, nursing team leader in the Oasis program at the Sandy Hill Community Health Center, said the organization is preparing an exemption request that would allow Sandy Hill to be opened, as part of a ” a range of services offered under the Oasis program.

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The center already offers a needle exchange, opioid substitution and other services to addicts, and Cormier said a supervised injection service would be just one more aspect of the program. “The model we are looking at would be integrated with the current existing structure that we are proposing,” he said.

Cormier said all the political and media attention focused on Vancouver’s Insite and the supervised sites has made it a bigger problem than it should be. Adding such a service to Ottawa, he said, would have minimal impact. “We see it as an additional service that we owe our customers in order to be able to provide them. “

The center has begun consultations and other work to prepare to seek an exemption from federal drug laws to allow such a service to operate. Among the obstacles he must overcome first is the fact that Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson and Police Chief Charles Bordeleau oppose injection sites.

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Sandy Hill isn’t the only group considering applying for it in Ottawa, which has a high rate of HIV transmission, linked, in part, to unsafe injection drug use.

Gagnon, meanwhile, says the coalition of nurses calling for supervised injection services is popular and represents nurses working on the front lines across the country. So far, the coalition has 400 members, Gagnon said, but she expects this to increase as the information campaign kicks off.

“There is very strong support (for this) within the nursing community, it’s pretty unanimous. “

Large nursing organizations intervened at the Supreme Court of Canada in the Insite case and took action to oppose Bill C-2, which creates barriers to opening such sites and has since become law. .

Gagnon noted that drug users will find a place to inject themselves if supervised sites are not available. By providing a clean place in conjunction with other services, the health system is more likely to help them.



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