Government of Canada begins consultation to better ensure the continuity of supervised consumption sites and services in Canada
August 20, 2020 - Ottawa, Ontario - Health Canada
Supervised consumption sites and services are an integral part of the Government of Canada’s response to the opioid overdose crisis. Since 2017, supervised consumption sites located across Canada have received almost 2.2 million visits, reversed nearly 17,400 overdoses without a single death at a site, and made approximately 84,400 referrals to health and social services.
However, the opioid overdose crisis continues to be one of the most serious public health crises in Canada’s recent history and the COVID-19 outbreak is worsening this crisis in many communities. On August 15, 2020, Health Canada launched a 60-day consultation process on supervised consumption sites and services to evaluate what is working and what can be improved.
The consultation will allow the Government of Canada to seek comments from Canadians, supervised consumption site operators, front-line health care workers, people who use the sites, people with lived and living experience, and other stakeholders. Anyone interested in participating can provide feedback until October 14, 2020.
“The evidence shows us that supervised consumption sites and services save lives and can provide people who use drugs with access to health and social services and treatment. As we see the COVID-19 outbreak worsening the situation for Canadians struggling with substance use disorders, it is more important than ever to ensure support is available. The feedback we are gathering from communities across Canada will help us to better understand how we can continue to help Canadians and save lives.”
The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health
More than 15,000 Canadians lost their lives to an opioid-related overdose between January 2016 and December 2019.
In Canada, the unauthorized possession of controlled substances is prohibited under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. As a result, to operate a supervised consumption site for medical purposes in Canada, an exemption from Health Canada under section 56.1 of the Act is necessary. Since January 1, 2016, the number of supervised consumption sites operating in Canada has increased from 1 to 38.
The actions taken to date by the Government of Canada have focused on advancing a public health approach to addressing substance use and expanding the accessibility of vital health and social services for people who use drugs. These actions include supporting the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act, funding programs like drug treatment courts for those whose substance use contributes to their offending, supporting enhanced access to harm reduction services such as supervised consumption sites, access to pharmaceutical-grade medications, also known as safer supply, and an expanded range of treatment options.
Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health
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