After a month of thoughtful input from the community, Ottawa Public Health has officially released the results of their harm-reduction services survey. The survey ran from July 7th -August 8th and over 2200 residents took the time to complete it.
This report outlines findings with respect to:
- Expanding harm reduction services in areas of the city that do not currently have services;
- Expanding hours of harm reduction services in Ottawa;
- Introducing harm reduction dispensing units; and
- Introducing supervised injection services (SIS) in Ottawa.
The results of the survey outlined in this report, as well as the responses to the open-ended survey questions will be used to inform future program planning.
Here are just some of the useful results that the survey was able to garner:
- 60% of respondents thought that offering harm reduction services in more areas of the city would be beneficial.
- 66% of respondents thought that longer hours would be beneficial.
- 62% of respondents thought that having harm reduction dispensing units available would be beneficial.
- 66% of respondents thought that having supervised injection services available would be beneficial.
- 46% of respondents had concerns with one or more of the proposed services.
- 36% had concerns specific to supervised injection services, the top three of which were:
- an increased presence of people who use drugs in the neighbourhood [where a service would be offered];
- an increase in drug selling or trafficking in the area; and
- a negative impact on the reputation or image of the community.
When asked for recommendations on how to address community concerns, specifically regarding supervised injection services, the top three recommendations were:
- Provide information to the community about the goals and benefits of supervised injection services (61%);
- Evaluate services, share results with the community and respond to evaluation results (58%);
- Establish a community advisory group to identify and address issues as they emerge (50%).
I would like to thank all Ottawa residents for taking the time to complete the survey.
There are still many more steps that will need to be taken into consideration before any of these items can be acted upon in good measure; however, as Chair of the Board of Health, these results fill in a piece of the puzzle which will prove useful in better understanding the views of our communities moving forward.
Key aspects in this regard include the ward by ward breakdowns of survey results as well as how narrow the gap between differing ideologies seems to be. For example, in Stittsville, 47% did not think that having supervised injection sites in Ottawa would be beneficial compared to 45% who thought they would (the other 8% either did not have an opinion either way or chose not to answer).
While these results may represent statistics from a health perspective, additional pieces of information are still required which help to connect them to the community perspective in a broader sense.
Concrete models will be required in order to ensure community safety as well as the safety of those requiring these services are prioritized. It is my hope that treatment remains the number one concern of any potential harm-reduction facility and that victims of addiction receive the help they require immediately on site.
Next steps will include deciding how to integrate this information into a model that works best for everyone whether it be through an integrated health center or standalone clinics.
Lastly, it is important to remember that although we as a City are closer to establishing our vision for implementing harm-reducing services, ultimately, this decision resides in the hands of the federal government and not that of the City.
I encourage all residents to review the survey.
as the results are quite in-depth and myself, along with OPH, look forward to continuing the conversation with residents further as we work with communities.