The high winds mean OPO cannot provide essential health and life-saving services again today. We have notified Ottawa Public Health & Ottawa Inner City Health and will have some volunteers at Raphael Brunet park from 6-9pm.
The cause of this service gap is not the inclement weather, however.
The lack of government support is the real reason for the gaps in overdose prevention services in this city.
Without infrastructure and resource support, our volunteer-based tents cannot open. For the past 67 days, offers of more secure infrastructure could have been made and were not.
There are zero inhalation services in this city meaning our guests have nowhere to go tonight.
And while we intend to refer guests to OPH’s SIS nearby (179 Clarence St), their limited space (2 injection booths) means many others will also have nowhere to go tonight.
While buildings sit idle, our beloved guests are left without our support, using without OPO tonight.
This means that our guests may be without naloxone or a friend nearby which can be fatal if an overdose occurs.
To prevent criminalization, our guests may use in a rushed manner and may use more at once than desired in order to not have substance on their person. This can increase the risk for infections and risk of overdose.
Our guests will not be greeted by our volunteers with warm hugs, help with referrals to detox and support services, or non-judgement tonight. They will not have their regular safe space to go get advice or share a laugh. Evidence states the opposite to addiction is connection. Tonight we cannot provide connections or belonging.
The province has not called for a public health emergency which means that exemptions are limited to federal approval. The federal government has taken time to provide these necessary exemptions in Ottawa. Various City of Ottawa staff members have stated that they would be working to ensure a safe indoor location for OPO’s essential health service, and still, we wait.
All levels of government are continuing the deadly war on drug users by refusing to decriminalize all substances.
Instead, our precious guests will be without their place. Again, they will feel abandoned by social services and a government whose purpose should be to help them, including keeping them alive.
While buildings sit idle. While resources could be enhanced. While more could so easily be done.
Instead, we hear silence from our 3 pillars of government.
Again, on our 67th day.