Provincial approval granted for Regina safe injection site
REGINA -- The Saskatchewan government has granted approval for an overdose prevention site in Regina.
The Nēwo Yōtina Friendship Centre will operate the site from its facility at 11th Avenue and Osler Street.
The overdose prevention site will be a place where drug users can use in a safe and supervised environment.
“People have to come with pre-obtained drugs, we don’t provide anything other than the tools and the space,” said Michael Parker, executive director of the Nēwo Yōtina Friendship Centre
He said the organization will also provide other services, in addition to overdose prevention.
“We also have all of our existing services that very much compliment the overdose prevention site with our housing support workers, and we have mental health support workers,” said Parker. “We’re not just providing the overdose prevention, but we also can tie it in with the other services.”
So far this year, 75 Saskatchewan residents have died of drug overdoses. On Thursday, the Saskatchewan Coroner’s Service said four people in Regina have died of suspected drug overdoses since Feb. 14.
“When people are using alone, there’s nobody there to use naloxone if there’s an overdose,” said Parker.
The Nēwo Yōtina Friendship Centre hopes to open their site later this month using existing resources, but would like additional government funding.
The Opposition said the site should be supported financially by the government.
“The province is not stepping up to fund overdose these prevention sites,” claimed NDP Critic for Social Services Meara Conway.
Conway pointed to a multimillion dollar contingency fund provided by Ottawa to support vulnerable populations during the pandemic.
“As far as I know and the government isn’t being very transparent about how that money is being spent or where it is being spent, but some of that money should go to these initiatives,” said Conway.
The provincial government said money was received through the Canada Saskatchewan Safe Restart Agreement but it was allocated to other programs.
According to the province, money for overdose prevention and safe consumption sites will be considered in preparing the provincial budget.
The province’s first safe consumption site, Prairie Harm Reduction, opened in Saskatoon in September.