Proposed Supervised Injection Service

SUPERVISED INJECTION SERVICES IN TORONTO

Overdoses in Toronto are on the rise. In 2013, 206 people died from drug overdose. A 2014 study of SRCHC harm reduction clients found that more than 1 in 10 had experienced an overdose in the past six months.  Another study found that a significant amount of SRCHC service users who inject drugs are injecting in public. Almost one third reported public injecting in the previous six months, and 9% said that they inject in public most often.  Compared to the City overall, there are disproportionately high numbers of people who inject drugs within our catchment area, as well as higher rates of emergency department visits due to opioid or cocaine use in Toronto. 

In response, in March 2016, Toronto’s then Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David McKeown held a press conference to announce the release of a Board of Health (BOH) report that informs the Board that Toronto Public Health - The Works, Queen West Central Toronto Community Health Centre and South Riverdale Community Health Centre would like to add supervised injection services to their existing clinical health services for people who inject drugs. The report recommended to the Board of Health (BOH) that Toronto Public Health participate in a coordinated community consultation with Queen West and South Riverdale on the integration of supervised injection services into existing harm reduction programming.

The BOH endorsed this idea and a variety of consultation activities took place over April & May.  For SRCHC, these included an online survey, Open House events, focus groups, presentations to schools and other community groups, individual meetings and tours of the Centre.   We heard from nearly 600 people. On July 4, 2016 the report on our consultation activities was presented to the Board of Health.  Overall, the vast majority of people consulted regarding the addition of SIS at SRCHC saw the benefits of such a service.  Where concerns and differences of opinion existed they were consistently brought forward with compassion and with an overall willingness to hear the evidence regarding the benefits of SIS and to trust SRCHC’s demonstrated capacity for reducing the harms association with drug use.  SRCHC’s community engagement and consultation efforts will be ongoing. If we are able to move forward with plans for this service a Community Liaison Committee will be developed to address any issues that may arise.  The Board of Health voted unanimously to recommend implementation of SIS in Toronto.  On July 12, 2016 Toronto City Council discussed the Board of Health report on the consultations and voted 36-3 in favour of implementing SIS in Toronto.

South Riverdale Community Health Centre, Queen West Central Toronto Community Health Centre and Toronto Public Health - The Works are each planning to add a small-scale, nurse-led integrated supervised injection service (SIS) to their existing health and harm reduction services to improve health outcomes for people who inject drugs. Together these agencies will provide access to SIS for areas of the city with the highest concentration of people who inject drugs and associated high risk behaviors (e.g. frequent injectors, incidence of overdose, public injection). In partnership they will be coordinating program and policy development to ensure consistent and effective service delivery.

South Riverdale and other Toronto SIS will be a different model than Vancouver’s InSite. The service will be located within the agency’s existing program space with no change to the exterior of the building. The service hours will be aligned with need and other programs and services offered at the Centre, and will be staffed at all times by a nurse, a coordinator/health promotion and harm reduction workers. Most of the people who will use this service will be existing clients of the Centre.

South Riverdale Community Health Centre has been delivering harm reduction services to people who inject drugs for nearly 20 years and is one of the busiest needle distribution programs in Toronto. In 2015, we had over 22,000 client visits and served over 3,000 people who use drugs.

SRCHC is currently in discussions with our provincial partners and is working on our application to Health Canada.  Before we can begin offering this service, we will need their approval.  Please contact us anytime if you have any questions about the status of this service.  

Click on the links below for more relevant research about SIS services:

Recent News articles on supervised injection services:

https://www.thestar.com/news/city_hall/2016/07/04/toronto-board-of-health-approves-supervised-injection-sites.html

https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2016/07/03/speaking-from-the-grave-for-supervised-injection-sites.html

http://toronto.ctvnews.ca/board-of-health-approves-proposal-for-safe-injection-sites-in-downtown-toronto-1.2972183

https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2016/07/14/toronto-council-approves-3-supervised-injection-sites.html

Safe injection sites: A brave and important service for Toronto

CBC interview with people who use drugs

Toronto needs safe injection sites, top Health Official says

Three Toronto Sites Identified for Supervised Injections

Philpott expects more applications for safe injection sites

Study bolsters case for safe injection sites

Surge in overdoses prompt fears fentanyl use is rising in Ontario

Safe injection sites don't just protect drug users

Former Toronto Mayors urge support of supervised injection sites

Keeping drug users safe helps the entire city

Supervised injection sites are imperfect and better than the alternative

Program Offered in the Following Languages: 
English
Program Location: 
This program will be located at 955 Queen Street East
Program Time and Hours: 
TBD - likely the same hours as when the COUNTERfit program fixed site office is open.
Program Contact: 

Jason Altenberg

(416) 461-1925, ext. 209
Are appointments required for this program?: 
No
Do participants need to register for this program?: 
No