Montreal safe injection site loses clientele amid fears of curfew fines
MONTREAL -- Montreal safe injection sites are seeing a sharp decline in users since Quebec's 8 p.m. curfew came into effect, and organizers are worried it could lead to a spike in overdoses.
"It's very worrisome for us," said Julien Montreuil, co-director of L’Anonyme, one of four places in Montreal where people can use drugs in a clean and supervised way.
He says far fewer people have been showing up since the curfew started, making him nervous people are choosing to use drugs alone instead, leaving many vulnerable to overdose.
"A lot of people are afraid to come to our service,” he said. “A lot of people don't want to see the police."
Safe injection sites have been designated an essential health service by public health, and users can obtain written permission to leave their homes after curfew to seek help.
But, Montreuil said many are afraid that police won't respect their papers.
“We are asking the mayor to tell police to leave the people alone that want to go to the safe injection sites,” he said.
Users can also obtain clean needles at safe injection sites. Without them, the risk of infection goes up.
Advocates are calling it a parallel crisis. While the pandemic rages on across the country, people continue to die from drug overdoses. Some say it could get a lot worse if people don’t access safe usage sites.
"This is a huge risk because a lot of people who are dying of overdoses are home alone," said Martin Page, a harm reduction worker.