Review of Supervised Consumption Services and Overdose Prevention Sites - Key Findings
In July 2018 Christine Elliott, the Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, announced a review of Ontario's Supervised Consumption Services and Overdose Prevention Sites. The minister engaged with representatives from various sectors to receive feedback on these sites, including health care professionals, community leaders, local business representatives, police, municipal leaders, site operators, researchers and persons with lived experience. At the same time, the ministry conducted a review of scientific research and reports to examine experiences in other jurisdictions and site performance data. The minister visited several sites and toured neighbourhoods with representatives of the local Business Improvement Association.
The findings of this review highlight key elements, such as:
- Combatting the opioid crisis will require a comprehensive and coordinated strategy beginning with prevention, through to connecting affected individuals to treatment.
- There are divided opinions on the community impacts of Supervised Consumption Services and Overdose Prevention Sites in terms of crime increase, drug trafficking or public disorder (such as vandalism and discarded syringes) or their effects on the quality of life for local residents.
- The data and evidence suggest that there is a reduction in illness and death from overdoses in those areas where Supervised Consumption Services are located as well as lower rates of public drug use and needle sharing.
- The current supervised consumption services and overdose prevention site models require changes to adapt their scope, especially to address public concerns that have been raised about them.
- Evidence and feedback suggest that Supervised Consumption Services improve the health of those who use drugs, are cost-effective and reduce the strain on the health care system.
- The sites are not sufficient as standalone entities disconnected from other services; sites should support individuals to seek addictions treatment as well as other health and social services.
- There are inadequate addictions treatment, mental health services and supportive housing options available for individuals using drugs.
- There is a need for clearer data reporting, monitoring and evaluations to ensure funding is applied effectively.
As a result of the review process, the government is moving forward with a re-purposed program for Supervised Consumption Services and Overdose Prevention Sites, referred to as Consumption and Treatment Services (CTS). The new delivery model would not only be equipped to reverse overdoses, it would also include an enhanced and necessary focus on connecting people who use drugs to primary care, treatment and rehabilitation, and other health and social services. Existing operators could apply to continue delivering services under this planned new model.