After many struggles including not getting money from the province of Saskatchewan, the Prairie Harm Reduction Safe Consumption Site opened its doors at 10 a.m. this morning in Saskatoon.
The executive director of the site, formally known as Aids Saskatoon, says he’s grateful that this day has come.
“We didn’t receive our provincial funding and so we have one paramedic in here so that immediately reduces the amount of people we can see in the building,” said Jason Mercredi, executive director of the site. “But on top of that we have COVID… so we are seeing people every second booth.”
The number of people overdosing has gone up in almost every region of the country and Saskatchewan is not exception. According to the Saskatchewan Coroner’s Service, there were 230 suspected and confirmed overdose deaths in the first eight months of 2020.
The safe injection site has a smoking room and seven booths that can accommodate about 70 people a day.
It’s open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Another casualty of money is that staff are able to keep it open 24 hours a day as planned.
“We put in for provincial funding to get $1.3 million that was to get 24/7 365 day operation,” said Mercredi. “We all know drug use is not a 9 to 5 habit. “We were denied provincial funding as a result we had to fundraise and so we got an online clothing store we are running crowd funding campaigns.”
Mercredi said it was community partnerships that allowed the site to finally open.
“Partnerships are huge for us,” he said. “We couldn’t do this alone this is definitely a team effort.