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On safe-injection sites, Wynne says society has a responsibility to reduce harm

WATERLOO, Ont. – Premier Kathleen Wynne says society has a responsibility to implement harm reduction policies, as Toronto looks at safe-injection sites.

The city’s medical officer of health recommended in a report this week that the sites be integrated into existing harm-reduction programs in Toronto because they will save lives.

Wynne echoed that, saying harm reduction policies save people’s lives, make communities safer and allow people to be functioning members of society.

But when asked if she supported Toronto or other cities setting up supervised injection sites, she said those municipalities and their public health units need to make those decisions.

She says there are good models in other jurisdictions that Toronto is looking toward.

Insite in Vancouver became North America’s first legal clinic in 2003 as part of a harm-reduction plan to tackle an epidemic of HIV-AIDS and drug overdose deaths in that city.

Toronto’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David McKeown, said the number of people dying from drug overdoses in the city has risen from 146 in 2004 to more than 200 people in 2013, which is the most recent data available.