We are proud to release the Toronto Residents Reference Panel on Supervised Injection Services.
The Residents Panel was an exemplary group of citizens who voluntarily took responsibility to address a complex public policy issue. Supervised injection services are locations where drug users can intravenously inject drugs under the eye of medically-trained staff. Supervised injection services are intended to reduce harm to people with severe drug addictions. Harm reduction is a part of a comprehensive drug strategy that also includes addiction prevention, drug addiction treatment, and law enforcement.
The Residents Panel was asked to recommend how to meaningfully involve local people if a supervised injection service is proposed. They were not judging whether supervised injection services are good or bad. Rather the Residents Panel provides policy-makers with guidance about how to involve the broader public in a controversial issue.
The Residents Panel members volunteered their time over the course of 4 Saturdays to learn from researchers, people with lived experience of addictions, and other informed stakeholders such as retail businesses, service-providers, advocates, and police representatives. We witnessed the powerful effect that information had on the Residents Panel in this process. Becoming well-informed, even when some of the information is contradictory, provided a good base for finding common agreements. Being well-informed also allowed discussions and debates to be more focused on facts instead of irreconcilable emotion or values.
West Neighbourhood House, formerly St. Christopher House, is proud to have been associated with this project. We also acknowledge with thanks the outstanding organizing and facilitation done by our lead partner, MASS LBP.