Jennie Stevens MPP, St. Catharines

Government of Ontario

Funding agreement reached for St. Catharines overdose prevention site

Published on July 2, 2019

After months of uncertainty, Positive Living Niagara has reached an agreement with the provincial government for the ongoing operation of its supervised injection site.

"We are very pleased that they have funded our program back to the beginning of April to cover our operating costs," said Positive Living executive director Glen Walker, who was notified last week an agreement for funding the program had been approved.

"We are pleased to know that we now have stable funding for the program and that we can continue to offer the wide range of services that we currently are able to offer," he said in an email.

Positive Living has been operating the Consumption and Treatment Service program since April 1, located across the road from the organization's Queenston Street offices, using funding it had previously received to support its temporary supervised injection site to get the permanent facility up and running.

But with an estimated cost of more than $1 million a year — about one-third of Positive Living Niagara's projected total annual budget — the organization needed approval of a funding agreement from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to continue running it.

The delays in reaching that agreement had led to concern from the organization's management as well as St. Catharines MPP Jennie Stevens, who lobbied the provincial government to expedite the approval process.

Meanwhile, Positive Living Street Works manager Talia Storm said the overdose prevention site "continues to be very busy, and reaches a large population within the Queenston neighbourhood."

"There are over 200 unique people who access the space regularly, and in May we had just shy of 1,000 visits," she wrote in an email. "We tend to average about 30 overdoses successfully reversed every month. We have been receiving positive feedback about fewer syringes being found in public spaces. In addition, a lot of people using the site are connecting with other service providers in the space."