TORONTO, June 26, 2018 /CNW/ - The new permanent Moss Park overdose prevention site is a tribute to all the volunteers that have not only saved lives through their care but also fought to ensure our governments provide ongoing support to truly address the opioid crisis plaguing our communities, says CUPE Ontario President, Fred Hahn.
More than a year after a collective of over 170 volunteers set up tents to provide a safe injection site at Moss Park in response to the opioid crisis, the Toronto Overdose Prevention Society (TOPS) will now open a permanent location across from the park.
"Through their work, these volunteers have saved hundreds of lives and with their new location, proper funding and paid staff they will save many more," says Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario. "Through their activism and refusal to accept no as an answer, they forced both the municipal and provincial government to finally take action."
Last year, CUPE Ontario provided TOPS with a large winterized trailer to replace the tents when the weather turned cold. In the absence of government leadership, the trailer allowed the volunteers to continue the important, life-saving, work they were doing in Moss Park.
"When dealing with a health crisis, all levels of government should come together to immediately coordinate and implement an effective emergency response. Sadly, it took hundreds of volunteers with the courage to break the law and provide critical life saving measures, before the government finally steps up," says Candace Rennick, Secretary-Treasurer of CUPE Ontario. "Thanks to their work, the resources are finally in place. Now we just need to make sure they stay in place until we can eliminate the overdose crisis for good."
Many in the community are concerned about comments made by Ontario's new Premier-designate during the recent election, where he suggested there will be no further support for safe injection and overdose prevention sites.
"While we celebrate the new overdose prevention site tonight, we are also sending a message," says Hahn. "The people of Moss Park, Toronto and Ontario support harm reduction work. We will defend harm reduction activists, their life saving work and the programs we need to bring an end to this crisis. We will not allow any politician to move our communities, our city, or our province backwards."
SOURCE Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)
For further information: Sarah Jordison, CUPE Communications, 416-578-5638 www.cupe.on.ca