Expert Advisory Group on Safer Supply
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The Expert Advisory Group on Safer Supply provides advice to Health Canada's Controlled Substances and Cannabis Branch about safer supply services in Canada. It is an independent advisory body, created by Health Canada to support Departmental activities pertaining to safer supply service models in Canada.
Safer supply context
The overdose crisis continues to have devastating impacts on individuals, communities and families. The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened long-standing challenges regarding substance use and the overdose crisis, with most jurisdictions reporting record high rates of overdose deaths and harms. In addition, people who use drugs are also facing additional barriers and risks related to the toxicity of the illegal drug supply and reduced access to health and social services.
Safer supply services provide prescribed pharmaceutical-grade alternatives to the toxic illegal drug supply as a way to help prevent overdoses and to connect people to other health and social services.
The Expert Advisory Group began in 2020. Its mandate is to provide Health Canada with independent, expert advice on:
- evidence from safer supply pilot projects, which includes addressing barriers and identifying best practices or gaps in services
- knowledge transfer strategies with respect to safer supply
- emerging safer supply issues, including options for lower-barrier models
Health Canada selected the Expert Advisory Group's members to provide a broad range of knowledge, experience, expertise, and perspectives.
Elaine Hyshka (Co-Chair)
Dr. Elaine Hyshka is Assistant Professor in the University of Alberta's School of Public Health, and Scientific Director of the Inner City Health and Wellness Program at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton. Her program of applied health services and policy research is focused on advancing a public health approach to substance use in Canada. She works closely with service providers, health authorities, people with lived experience of substance use, and all levels of government to identify, evaluate, and scale effectives strategies for improving health outcomes and advancing health equity.
Prior to her faculty appointment in 2016, Dr. Hyshka completed a PhD in public health sciences focused on improving substance use service system planning and reducing unmet care needs for structurally vulnerable populations. Between May 2017 and November 2019, Dr. Hyshka served as Co-Chair of the Alberta provincial Minister of Health's Opioid Emergency Response Commission. Her commitment to improving population health has been recognized by multiple prestigious awards.
Jordan Westfall (Co-Chair)
Jordan coined the term safe supply and coauthored Safe Supply: a Concept Document, the formative paper on safe supply. He cofounded the Canadian Association for Safe Supply (CASS), Canada's first national non-profit focused on ensuring access to legal and regulated drugs for people at risk of overdose. He has represented Canada internationally at the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs. He holds a Masters degree in Public Policy from Simon Fraser University. His lived experience as a person who uses drugs informs his work and career.
Rob Boyd has been working in the field of mental health, substance use disorder and homelessness in Ottawa for more than 30 years. He started at the Salvation Army Youth shelter in 1990, then moved on to the YMCA/YWCA to manage their housing programs before becoming the Oasis Program Director at the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre in 2004 and is currently serving as the Chief Executive Officer of Ottawa Inner City Health.
Dr. Angela Carol is a skilled Family Physician with an interest in treating chronic illnesses, including chronic pain, mental illness and addiction. In her clinical practice, she supports best practices that decrease the impact of the opioid crisis including harm reduction strategies such as opioid replacement therapy, the distribution of naloxone, safe needle exchange, supervising a safe injection site/consumption treatment service, and safe and effective opioid prescribing.
Her clinical work allows her to focus some of her work with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO), on ensuring best practices in the management of chronic pain, addiction treatment and safe and effective opioid prescribing across Canada. Much of her work as a medical regulator focused on knowledge translation and exchange with respect to decreasing overdoses and deaths due to opioid use and diversion.
Dr. Carol has worked with key stakeholders (patients/public, clinicians, law enforcement, researchers, academics, scientists, medical regulatory authorities, US Federation of State Medical Boards, pharmacist, dentists, educators, government, First Nations, industry, media, public health, and coroners) to create policies, guidelines, and local, provincial, and national strategies to address the opioid crisis directly.
Dr. Sara Davidson is Medical Director of River Stone Recovery Centre, a family physician at Fredericton Downtown Community Health Centre (FDCHC), and a faculty member at Dalhousie Medicine NB (DMNB) and Memorial University. She graduated from DMNB in 2015, and completed a Family Medicine residency in Hamilton, Ontario in 2017. Her experience working with that city's vulnerable and unhoused populations prepared her for her position at FDCHC, which serves the downtown Fredericton population, including those without housing. Two years after beginning an innovative addiction medicine practice at FDCHC, Dr. Davidson led a team to successfully secure funding from Health Canada's Substance Use and Addictions Program (SUAP) to create an addiction medicine centre for opiate and stimulant use disorders and run a five-year pilot project developing best practices for injectable opiate agonist therapy (iOAT). She is also a tireless advocate for solutions to the housing crisis in Fredericton.
Dr. Brian Emerson was appointed Deputy Provincial Health Officer in 2018. Prior to joining government in 2003 as public health medical consultant, Brian had been a medical health officer in several regions in BC since 1987.
One of Brian's major projects was to coordinate the development implementation of a new Public Health Act and regulations for BC, and he continues to be very involved in public health legislation development and implementation.
Brian is involved at the provincial and national levels in the response to the toxic unregulated drugs death epidemic. Brian edited the development of several papers detailing public health perspectives on regulating alcohol, tobacco, and illegal psychoactive substances and was part of the expert working group advising the Global Commission on Drug Policy on their recent paper "Regulation: The Responsible Control of Drugs".
Brian received the George Elliot award for lifetime contributions to public health in British Columbia in 2018.
Tara Gomes is an epidemiologist and Principal Investigator of the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network (ODPRN), a provincial network of researchers with expertise in pharmaceutical utilization, outcomes and policy who rapidly conduct research for drug decision-makers in Ontario and across Canada. She holds a Canada Research Chair in Drug Policy Research and Evaluation, is a Scientist in the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael's Hospital and Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) and is an assistant professor at the University of Toronto. Her research is focused on pharmacoepidemiology, drug safety and drug policy research leveraging large, administrative databases, and she has published over 200 peer-reviewed articles and over 100 policy reports in this area. Dr. Gomes also works closely with government regulators at the provincial and national level to develop evidence to inform policies related to opioid use disorder and opioid-related harm through the Ontario Opioid Drug Observatory.
Catherine Hacksel is a health care administrator with Ottawa Inner City Health, serving primarily people who are homeless. As a person with lived and living experience using illegal drugs, Catherine embraces an intersectional anti-oppressive approach to activism, research, and community development. Catherine's volunteer experience includes coordinating and developing programming for the Drug Users Advocacy League and public relations with the Campaign for Safer Consumption Sites in Ottawa. Catherine was also a core organizer with opening and operating an unsanctioned overdose prevention site in her home neighbourhood of Lowertown, while serving on the elected board for the Lowertown Community Association – later nominated to the executive board of the Federation of Citizens Associations of Ottawa.
Carol Hopkins is the Executive Director of the Thunderbird Partnership Foundation (a division of the National Native Addictions Partnership Foundation) and is of the Lenape Nation at Moraviantown, ON. Carol was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2018. In 2019, she was recognized with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Western University.
Carol has spent more than 20 years in the field of First Nations addictions and mental health. She has co-chaired national initiatives known for best practice in policy review and development, resulting in the: First Nations Mental Wellness Continuum Framework, the Honouring Our Strengths: A Renewed Framework to Address Substance Use Issues Among First Nations in Canada, the Indigenous Wellness Framework, and the Native Wellness Assessment.
Carol holds both a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Toronto and a degree in sacred Indigenous Knowledge (equivalent to a Ph.D. in western-based education systems).
Cheyenne Johnson, MPH, RN, CCRP, is the Executive Director with the BC Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU). In her previous roles as Director of Clinical Activities and Development, and Director of the Addiction Nursing Fellowship, Cheyenne oversaw the development of provincial clinical care guidance documents and dissemination, including evidence-based clinical guidelines, practice support tools and policy briefs. She is also actively involved in the BCCSU's interdisciplinary program of research related to substance use, bringing to bear her substantial experience in clinical trial operations (she is also a Certified Clinical Research Professional with experience in more than 20 addiction medicine, HIV/AIDS, dermatology, and ophthalmology clinical trials) as well as her background in health professions education, coordination and integration of care, and knowledge translation.
Cheyenne was born in Salmon Arm, BC, and is of mixed-Settler and Indigenous ancestry and is a member of the Tootinaowaziibeeng Treaty Reserve (Valley River) in Manitoba. Cheyenne completed her Bachelor of Nursing Science at Queen's University and her Masters of Public Health at Simon Fraser University. She joined the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS in 2013 as a Clinical Research Nurse, where she went on to be the Inaugural Nursing Fellow of Canada's only addiction nursing training program, the St. Paul's Goldcorp Addiction Nursing Fellowship
Mae is a member of Temagami First Nation and is a Primary Health Care Nurse Practitioner. Her diverse nursing career includes mental health and substance use, adolescent health, maternal/child health, and community health. She has a strong health policy and research background in community development, youth suicide, early psychosis, cancer care, health human resources and acquired brain injury.
She is a member of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) COVID-19 Task Team advising leadership on pandemic planning and responses. Mae has spent 4 years on the NAN Health Transformation Advisory Council that focuses on improving health care for northern Ojibway, Cree and Oji-Cree members in 49 remote and rural First Nations. She has been providing primary health care at the Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School for 19 years.
Mae holds an Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing, Master of Education (Curriculum Specialty) and an Honorary Doctorate of Laws degree from Trent University.
Currently living in Tiohtià:ke (Montreal, Quebec), Frankie Lambert (he/they) is a 25-year-old Haitian transnational adoptee. He is currently working as the Chemsex Support and Outreach Coordinator for ACCM (Aids Community Care Montreal), Quebec's only HIV and sexual health community organization that provides education for prevention, treatment information, and support services to anglophone and allophone communities. The voices of ACCM's members are central to ACCM's guidance and they work in collaboration with their many communities to build a compassionate and caring response to HIV and hepatitis C. Frankie also contributed to the editorial board of the UPHNS (Urgent Public Health Need Sites) blog, a pan-Canadian project that promotes the exchange of knowledge, resources and information on harm reduction and overdose prevention within UPHNS and emergency shelters set up in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Lastly, Frankie is also part of the Defund the SVPM Coalition, and the activist group Black Lives Matter. As a drug user, Frankie lives by the philosophy of harm reduction and transformative justice.
Dr. Carole Morissette, MD, FRCPC, is a medical advisor with the Direction régionale de santé publique du Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux du Centre-Sud-de-l'Île-de-Montréal.
Shanell Twan is currently the Core Team Supervisor at Streetworks - Edmonton's Harm reduction program. She is the current President of AAWEAR (Alberta Alliance Who Educate Advocate Responsibly). AAWEAR is a provincial network of people in Alberta with a history of substance use who meet to build the capacity of people who use substances so that their voices can be heard, and their health can be improved upon. Shanell is also the community liaison for the Royal Alexandra Hospital's Addiction Recovery Community Health program, where she leads the Community Advisory Group, composed of members with lived experience and established to provide input and feedback on inner city health care issues.
Shanell Twan is a Board member for the province of Alberta for CAPUD (the Canadian Association of People Using Drugs). Shanell is an Indigenous woman whose Indigenous ancestry stems from the interior of British Columbia known as the Caribou Region.
- Mark Barnes
- Cindy Macisaac
- Karen Mazurek
- Wendy Muckle
- Jaris Swidrovich
Expert Advisory Group Secretariat Team (Health Canada)
Health Canada Media Relations Team
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