P.E.I. Premier Dennis King says his government remains committed to providing supervised consumption services for Islanders struggling with addictions, but has no timeline on when or where that will happen after a plan for a Park Street site fell through.
"I think we need to have a kind of a reset on that," he told CBC News on Friday. "There needs to be a lot more community consultation. There has to be a lot more education that goes into that for sure."
Yet the premier added: "We're committed to it. We want to do it right. We're gonna work with our partners to make sure we can continue to provide some services now … we're working with as many partners as as we can to get this as right as we can as fast as we can."
On Sept. 25, Charlottetown councillors voted to deny the province a temporary variance to establish an overdose prevention site at 15 Park St. for one year. A provincial official said the government didn't intend to appeal the decision.
An earlier plan to place the site on Belmont Street in Charlottetown was scuttled in the middle of last spring's provincial election campaign.
"Quite honestly — and I said this during the election — the process that we had undertaken, you know, obviously wasn't a strong enough process," King said Friday, adding: "I'm willing to take the blame for that and to own that."
Most Canadian provinces have at least one supervised consumption site where the risks of fatal overdoses are reduced by having drug test strips, clean needles and other paraphernalia at hand, with staff keeping an eye on users. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)
He called the need for a place where people can bring their non-prescription drugs for testing and use in a controlled environment, with staff on hand to respond to overdoses, was one of the "challenges of a growing jurisdiction."
Only P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador do not have such a site, out of all the Canadian provinces.
But King said the need is clear.
"These are our family and friends; they're our neighbours and brothers and sisters... A responsible government has to make sure we provide the service."