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CMHA SCB and SMDHU update on the status of the Consumption & Treatment Services application at 11 Innisfil St. in the City of Barrie

(Barrie, June 24, 2024) – Applications for a Consumption and Treatment Services (CTS) site at 11 Innisfil St., Barrie, were submitted to Health Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Health on Oct. 7, 2021, by the Canadian Mental Health Association Simcoe County Branch (CMHA SCB). The application was approved at the federal level through the granting of an exemption to section 56.1 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act on Sept. 9, 2022, and renewed in September 2023.

CMHA SCB has not received a response from the Ontario Ministry of Health, following several requests. Therefore, they have made the very difficult decision to withdraw the current application for a CTS site at 11 Innisfil St., Barrie. CMHA SCB and the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) appreciate the extensive efforts and commitment to achieve these services in Barrie from a wide range of local health and community services organizations, community members, and members of the business community. Over the past six years, these efforts have helped demonstrate the local need for such a service and the role that CTS sites can play in helping to save lives and contributing to safer communities.

“Since autumn 2021, we made significant investments in this site because it is a crucial service for the community,” said Dr. Valerie Grdisa, CMHA Simcoe County CEO. “As each month passed, more lives were and continue to be lost in Barrie and Simcoe County to the opioid crisis. Although we appreciate these decisions require careful consideration, we are not comfortable continuing to pay rent without a response when we could be using these funds to meet other needs of the community.”

Both CMHA SCB and SMDHU are actively involved in addressing the continuing drug toxicity crisis. In May 2024 alone, there were 16 suspected drug-related deaths in Simcoe Muskoka. On average, there are 25 suspected overdose emergency department visits in the region every week. In 2023, tragically 53 people lost their lives in Barrie to a suspected opioid related poisoning. Thus far in 2024 (up to June 11, 2024), 26 people lost their lives to a suspected drug- related death in Barrie, and the immediate surrounding area.

“It continues to be clear from research on CTS sites in Ontario and elsewhere that they remain a key service to help prevent serious harms to individuals who use drugs, and increase uptake of addiction treatment and other health and social services,” said Dr. Lisa Simon, associate medical officer of health at the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit. “They also serve the broader community by improving public order and safety through reducing the presence of discarded drug paraphernalia and public drug use.”

The response to the drug toxicity crisis will continue through the collaborative efforts of CMHA SCB, SMDHU and many other health and community service providers working on the front line. The Simcoe Muskoka Drug Strategy, a partnership of regional agencies, organizations and individuals, remains committed to working together to address the harms of the current drug

toxicity crisis, including exploring expansion of low barrier access to medical treatment for opioid addiction (opioid agonist therapies), raising public awareness of the impact of the crisis and policy changes needed to address it, as well as working with people who use drugs to ensure alignment with their needs. SMDHU provides centralized support and data for the drug strategy efforts, while also continuing programming in harm reduction and substance use prevention.

CMHA SCB remains committed to supporting people who use drugs through a range of services. Despite not securing specific funding for the CTS, CMHA SCB continues to collaborate with community partners and those with lived and living experience, adapting models of care and emphasizing harm reduction strategies. Integrative and innovative programs, such as community-based Mobile Withdrawal Management Services (MWMS) and outreach addiction services, continue to address the opioid crisis. Extensive services are provided throughout Simcoe County, ensuring comprehensive regional support. CMHA SCB’s priority is to remain adaptive and responsive to the needs of the community amidst the devastating challenges and tragic deaths posed by the opioid crisis.


For more information, contact:

Liz Grummett Communications

Canadian Mental Health Association, Simcoe County

Heather Howe Media Coordinator

Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit

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