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Federal exemption granted to Sudbury’s consumption site

Health Canada has granted an exemption to operate a new supervised consumption site in Greater Sudbury.

Reseau ACCESS network executive director Heidi Eisenhauer says the Community Drug Strategy for the City of Greater Sudbury announced the news yesterday Health Canada has granted a federal exemption for their downtown site.

She says it is a significant milestone since the site will be up and running soon, and they know such sites save lives and are a necessary intervention with the current overdose crisis.

She adds the network is currently in the process of recruiting nurses or primary care paramedics, to meet the minimum staffing requirements to open and begin offering services.

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Once staff is hired, Eisenhauer adds the 24 Energy Court site will be operational 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Supervised consumption sites are spaces where people can consume their own pre-obtained drugs under the supervision of trained staff in a safe and non-judgmental environment.

Community Drug Strategy Co-Chairs, Dr. Penny Sutcliffe and Chief Paul Pedersen shared their support and acknowledgement of the multi-team effort to reach this milestone. “Establishing this site is a response to a local call to action. We heard, we listened, and we are grateful that the doors to this service will soon be open,” said Paul Pedersen, Chief, Greater Sudbury Police Services.

“It is wonderful to see our community partners another step closer to opening,” said the Mayor Bigger of Greater Sudbury. “City Council moved this project forward quickly, and staff worked hard to prepare the site so our partners can better reach those who use substances and connect them with health and social services. I have no doubt these services will help address the effects of the opioid crisis in Greater Sudbury and save lives.”

Supervised consumption sites are spaces where people can consume their own pre-obtained drugs under the supervision of trained staff in a safe and non-judgmental environment.

People are provided with safer drug use equipment and can also receive medical care and referrals to other health and social services.

Given the rise in opioid-related overdoses and the poisoned drug crisis, supervised consumption sites have been shown to reduce overdoses, infections, and deaths related to drug use. In other communities, these services have been beneficial in referring clients to essential services like housing, mental health care, and treatment options.

Some benefits seen from other supervised consumption sites include:

  • reduced risk of accidental overdose, because people are not using substances alone;
  • connecting people who use substances to crucial health and social services, such as housing, employment, and food bank services; and
  • reduces drug use in public spaces while reducing amounts of discarded substance-related equipment (for example, needles).

Services offered by the supervised consumption site include sterile supplies for substance use and supportive spaces for substance consumption, peer support, and access and/or referral to health and social services.

The feasibility of establishing a supervised consumption site was extensively explored, including 11-month community consultation and data analysis—the Needs Assessment and Feasibility study. This is a required step in seeking a federal exemption under Health Canada’s Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. The federal exemption is the final element required to complete the provincial application for a funded supervised consumption and treatment site.

Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, Public Health Sudbury & Districts Medical Officer of Health and co-chair of the Community Drug Strategy thanked all community stakeholders, noting, “While we still have a long way to go in addressing harms related to substance use, we are grateful for all the hard work from citizens and community partners to help us get here today. Supervised consumption sites are an important part of a multiprong approach to addressing the local drug poisoning tragedy.”

For more information on supervised consumption sites, please visit the Community Drug Strategy’s website at www.phsd.ca/cds or call Reseau ACCESS Network at: 705.885.0500.

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