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Applications for Timmins' permanent overdose prevention site are sent

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Officials with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Cochrane-Timiskaming said they're optimistic that a permanent overdose prevention site will be approved within the year.

Dr. Paul Jalbert, executive director for the area CMHA, said now that Timmins council has endorsed a provincially-funded supervised consumption site, applications to the provincial and federal governments have been submitted.

“We’re hopeful from Health Canada we can start a conversation after their initial review maybe six weeks from now or so and then the Ministry of Health some time after that, but also we continue the engagement work particularly with the near neighbours and with the downtown core,” said Jalbert.

“I’m hopeful that we can see something in six months but six to nine months is probably more realistic."

The temporary Safe Health Site Timmins (SHST) was opened in July and is managed by the Timmins and District Hospital.

Hospital officials said in the first six months of operation it saw more than 10,000 visits with almost half of those to consume substances on site. The other visitors were seeking a variety of other services offered at the site.

When it becomes a permanent faculty at the Cedar Street North location, the local CMHA will run it. Jalbert said improved access to services including housing support and primary care will be offered at that time.

“As a mental health and addictions service provider, we can tie people from this harm reduction service to a treatment service just about immediately if they want to make that connection, so really seamless for the individual who’s coming in,” he said.

Porcupine Health Unit officials said a provincially-funded supervised consumption site is one part of a larger comprehensive approach with the Timmins and Area Drug Strategy to address substance use in the region.

Officials told CTV News that while SHST saves lives – so far twenty-two overdoses were reversed –it also saves money since visits to emergency room visits and paramedic response calls are more expensive.

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