A Saskatoon committee is looking into the feasibility of opening a supervised injection site in the city.
On Tuesday, federal Health Minister Jane Philpott and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale announced a series of legislative changes that will speed up the process for opening safe injection sites.
Saskatoon police Chief Clive Weighill said on Tuesday discussions about opening supervised injection sites were already underway in the city.
A committee comprising the Sanctum Care Group, the Saskatoon Community Clinic's Westside Clinic, AIDS Saskatoon, the Saskatoon Tribal Council, health workers and police is looking into the issue.
Weighill said a supervised injection site at a new wellness centre was one of the options being considered.
"What do we want to create for a wellness centre?" he asked. "One-stop shopping where people who have addiction issues can go to?"
He said the site could, for example, be a place for users to inject safely or to get help for their addictions.
"So we're just in the conversation stage of this right now," he said.
Weighill wants to be involved in any efforts to bring supervised injection sites to Saskatoon because of the impact it would have on police enforcement.
He said his feelings about supervised injection sites have changed over time.
"At one time I certainly was against safe injection sites," he said.
"I never thought I would be in favour of it, but as I'm reading more literature on it, I'm moving along the continuum.
"I won't say I'm entirely convinced yet but I'm certainly very involved with the committee."
Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Felix Thomas, who is also on the committee, said he envisions a safe injection site at or near his organization's existing downtown services.
"We do know that with the opiate dilemma that we have now, we do need something sooner than later, as well as the HIV/AIDS crisis that's facing our communities," he said.
Saskatchewan's HIV rates are twice as high as the national average.
Thomas said many of his existing clients would use a safe injection site right away, while others would need time to trust the service.
He said the committee was investigating the cost of opening the service in Saskatoon, adding that community consultation would need to take place before it could go ahead.
December 14th, 2016