In 2018, St. Stephen’s Community House banded together with our community to quickly open an Overdose Prevention Site (OPS). The Kensington Market neighbourhood was seeing a dramatic increase in injection drug use with, sadly, an alarming increase in overdose deaths amongst our service users.
Our OPS service has saved countless lives and brought hundreds of people at risk into our supportive environment where they access food, friendship, primary healthcare, housing help, employment supports, mental health counselling and support groups.
On Friday March 29, 2019, we learned from the Provincial Government that our site will be closed with the provincial funding cut-off. We were to shut our doors on April 1, 2019 in the midst of the public health crisis. We will not send our service users back to the streets where they are at risk of injury and death. On Monday April 1st, we will open as usual with our Federal Exemption to provide a supervised injection service.
Community members are doing what they can: On April 6, The Friends of Kensington Market held a rally to save the OPS. Automaticamore hosted a dance party on April 21 to raise money. Mary-Liz Power ran in the Sporting Life 10K on May 12 and has a Facebook fundraising page. Night Shift and Frequencies are holding a charity cruise on June 13.
On April 18, the Toronto Overdose Prevention Society generously donated $20,000 to help keep our OPS doors open.
You can help save lives: Please contact your MPP. Donate Now to keep our OPS open!
And here are some stories about the OPS closure: