Overview

Supervised consumption services are evidence-based health services that provide a safe and hygienic place for people to use drugs while supervised by trained staff. They:

  • connect people to health and social services
  • provide harm reduction supports such as sterile equipment and encourage safer drug use
  • administer naloxone in the event of opioid overdose

The drugs are not provided by the facility staff.

Supervised consumption services are often called safe injection sites. We use the term "supervised consumption services" because it offers services to people who take drugs in different ways, including injecting, smoking or snorting.

Services can be offered in stand-alone sites or within other clinics that offer medical and social supports, such as addiction and mental health counselling and housing services.

Evidence shows supervised consumption services:

  • help save lives by reversing overdoses.
  • reduce transmission of diseases and infections by providing sterile equipment and needles.
  • provide other health services such as wound care, care for chronic conditions, mental health support or opioid dependency treatment, among other wrap-around services.
  • build safer communities by reducing public substance use and discarded needles.

Why they're needed

562 people in Alberta died of drug overdoses involving fentanyl in 2017 (Alberta Q4 Quarterly Report 2017). Inner-city neighbourhoods, where a large proportion of people use drugs in unsafe conditions, have high rates of overdose deaths.

The opioid crisis in Alberta a public health crisis and we're working with partners to reduce harms and deaths related to opioid use.

Supervised consumption services, needle exhanges, naloxone and opioid dependency treatment help reduce HIV, Hepatitis C, bacterial infections and overdose death. These harm-reduction approaches are central to our work to support Albertans in crisis.

As part of a provincial response to the opioid crisis, we've provided funding to Alberta Health Services and community coalitions to offer supervised consumption services at 6 approved locations in the province for the first time.

Approved locations

Alberta Health Services received approval from Health Canada to offer supervised consumptions services in:

  • Calgary: Sheldon M. Chumir Health Centre
    The permanent location opened Jan. 15, 2018. A temporary location offered services Oct. 30, 2017 to Jan. 14, 2018.
  • Edmonton: Royal Alexandra Hospital (in-patients only)
    The location opened April 2, 2018

Access to Medically Supervised Injection Services Edmonton received approval from Health Canada to integrate supervised consumption services into 3 existing organizations that serve community members with problematic substance use, many of whom are homeless.

  • Boyle Street Community Services - opened March 23, 2018
  • Boyle McCauley Health Centre - opening in 2018
  • George Spady Centre - opened April 23, 2018

ARCHES, a harm reduction agency in Lethbridge, received approval from Health Canada to provide supervised consumption services in a downtown building in Lethbridge. This location opened Feb 28, 2018.

For more information, review the:

Work in other urban centres

The Associate Minister of Health supports proposals and federal applications to bring supervised consumption services to:

  • Medicine Hat
  • Grande Prairie
  • Calgary (a mobile site)

Red Deer continues to explore options for supervised consumption services that meet the needs of its population.

Needs assessments for supervised consumption services were also done by coalitions in Fort McMurray and Edson. These cities are not moving forward with federal applications at this time.

Contacts

Sheldon M. Chumir Health Centre
scs.calgary@ahs.ca
1-877-275-8830

Access to Medically Supervised Injection Services Edmonton
Shelley Williams, Chair
shelley.w@hivedmonton.com
780-488-5742, extension 401

Boyle McCauley Health Centre
Cecillia Blasetti, Executive Director
780-427-7333, extension 267

Boyle Street Community Services
Julian Daly, Executive Director
780-424-4106, extension 204

George Spady Society
Lorette Garrick, Executive Director
587-524-1530

Streetworks
Marliss Taylor, Program Manager
780-424-4106, extension 211

ARCHES Lethbridge
Stacey Bourque, Executive Director
scs@lethbridgearches.com
403-328-8186 (main ARCHES office)
403-942-8213 (supervised consumption site)