Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Wooden Crosses Placed outside Ontario Legislature to Mark Overdose Deaths

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Wooden Crosses Placed outside Ontario Legislature to Mark Overdose Deaths

Article excerpt

Crosses outside Ontario legislature mark overdose deaths

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TORONTO - More than 1,000 wooden crosses representing lives lost to drug overdoses were placed outside Ontario's legislature on Monday as advocates called on the province to maintain and expand overdose prevention sites currently under review, but the government said it needed more time to decide on the fate of the facilities.

The Progressive Conservatives paused the planned openings of several sites the summer as they reviewed the future of the facilities, a move that has drawn criticism from harm prevention workers and many in the medical community.

Early Monday, advocates from the Toronto Overdose Prevention Society pushed 1,265 crosses into the lawn outside the legislature to represent those who died as a result of overdoses last year, and held a vigil to mark the lives lost.

"We want to remind the government that that's what we're talking about here, we're talking about people's lives and that's what's in their hands," said Sarah Ovens, one of the event's organizers. "That's what depends on the results of this review."

Ovens urged the province to keep funding currently operating overdose prevention sites, allow new sites that have requested funding to open, and provide more funding for mental health and addiction services.

"Our sites are one of the biggest places where people access referrals to treatment," she said.

The crosses placed by Ovens and others were removed from the legislature's lawns by mid-Monday morning, shortly before Community Services Minister Lisa MacLeod said the province needed another month to work on its review of the sites.

The government had previously said it would announce a decision by the end of September but MacLeod said the province had to do its due diligence on the matter.

"This crisis has been on-going for a number of years. …

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