Cleaner and safer streets. Healthier communities.

The Campaign for Safer Consumption Sites in Ottawa was formed in response to an ongoing health crisis.

Ottawa has Ontario’s highest rate of new HIV infection among injection drug users. 11% of people who inject drugs in Ottawa are infected with HIV, while 60% have contracted hepatitis C. Someone dies of drug overdose every 10 days in our city — deaths that could be prevented with timely medical intervention.

Supervised consumption sites are public health facilities that offer a safe, hygienic place where people can use their own drugs under medical supervision. 

Canada’s first supervised injection site, Insite, has been operating since 2003 in downtown Vancouver. The evidence from Insite  – and from over 90 such sites around the world – proves that supervised consumption sites reduce the spread of diseases such as HIV, prevent overdose deaths, and improve access to addiction treatment programs. They have also been shown to encourage cleaner, safer streets by reducing public drug use and drug equipment litter.

Opening supervised drug consumption sites in Ottawa would:
  • Reduce the spread of HIV and hepatitis-C by providing sterile equipment and safe disposal for used needles
  • Prevent deaths caused by overdose
  • Decrease public drug use and drug-equipment litter
  • Provide access to health and social services, such as first aid treatment and addiction recovery programs

Sign the petition to show your support for supervised drug consumption services in Ottawa.

Upcoming meetings - July 5th and July 21st

Our organizers group will meet twice in July:

  • Sunday July 5th, 2pm at Somerset West Community Health Centre (map). The meeting room is on the 3rd floor, please ring the doorbell at the Eccles St. entrance if the door is locked.
  • Tuesday July 21st, 7:30pm at Bluebird Coffee on Dalhousie near St. Patrick (map).

CSCS is a grassroots group of community members who are passionate about creating a healthier Ottawa. We meet on the first Sunday of each month at Somerset West CHC, and the third Tuesday of each month at Bluebird Coffee. If you're interested in getting involved with our campaign to bring supervised injection to Ottawa, please join in!

The problems with the Problem Address Framework

As one of several community groups that have united in opposition to the Multi-Stakeholder Approach to Problem Addresses (MSAPA), the Campaign for Safer Consumption Sites in Ottawa would like to clarify our reasons for condemning this initiative.

CSCS Ottawa is a grassroots collective of individuals who want to see increased health services for those struggling with drug addiction in our nation’s capital. We are composed of academics, frontline workers, and people with history of substance abuse. We believe people who use drugs have a right to health and self-determination, which includes access to safe and secure housing options. We believe in pragmatic policy that is evidence-based. 

These are the three core reasons we object to the Problem Address Framework:

  1. It challenges honest relationships between clients in need and service providers: Due to the criminalization and stigmatization of drug use, people who use drugs will not seek care if they do not feel safe. Concern has already been raised about privacy limitations within the PAF, as multiple stakeholders are encouraged to disclose sensitive information without their clients’ consent. We believe client confidentiality is essential to maintain honest communication and effective service delivery, particularly in health care settings.
  2. It undermines pragmatic harm reduction strategies such as secondary distribution: In municipalities such as the Greater Toronto Area, formalized secondary distribution (peers providing equipment and information) out of residential units has been an innovative response to agency limitations (e.g. hours of operation). Ottawa Public Health has recognized that access to harm reduction equipment remains a challenge for people who use drugs in Ottawa, and has suggested formalizing secondary equipment distribution by people who use drugs here (1). Such secondary services provided in Ottawa could be negatively characterized by this framework as a “Problem Address” despite functioning as a community health service.
  3. It ignores a clear solution to many community concerns: If agencies want to reduce public drug use and drug equipment litter, provide an alternative to illicit drug use in residential units, and encourage access to addiction treatment, then they should support the creation of safer consumption sites in Ottawa. International research has demonstrated the positive impacts of supervised injection services on clients and communities in Canada and around the globe.

Montreal movement for supervised injection sites inspires Ottawa advocates

Late last week Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre committed to implementing four supervised injection sites in the City of Montreal by fall of this year – regardless of Federal support. “What are we waiting for? People are dying,” said Coderre.

This assertive step to save lives and improve public health in his city is welcomed by Ottawa advocates, who are saddened by Mayor Watson’s willful ignorance of harm reduction services. Mayor Watson did recognize local drug fatalities in the summer of 2013 when he proclaimed “Overdose Awareness Day” in the City of Ottawa, but has never attended the annual event at the human rights monument.

The Campaign for Safer Consumption Sites (CSCS) in Ottawa will press on this summer, continuing to educate residents of Ottawa on the benefits of, and need for, supervised injection services and challenge stigma surrounding problematic substance use.

Other pertinent info:

  • While Insite has the unanimous support of the Supreme Court of Canada, two supervised injection sites currently operate in Vancouver, BC. The second drug consumption room exists in the Dr. Peter Centre, an HIV/AIDs treatment facility. The centre has provided nursing support and supervision for clients’ injection drug use for over a decade, and applied for a federal exemption under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) (the same that Insite has) in February 2014.
  • Last summer a peer-reviewed research paper from Simon Fraser University predicted that two supervised injection facilities in Ottawa would save approximately $1 million dollars per year in reduced HIV and HCV transmissions. (1)
  • According to Ottawa Public Health, an estimated 40 deaths and 115 hospitalizations are attributed to drug overdose annually in the City of Ottawa. (2)
  • Of people who inject drugs in Ottawa, 10% are HIV positive and 70% have Hepatitis C (HCV) antibodies. (2)

CSCS New and Returning Members Meeting

CSCS New Members Meeting - May 19 2015

Get involved for supervised injection in Ottawa!

Join the Campaign for Safer Consumption Sites in Ottawa in celebrating recent efforts to bring safer consumption to Ottawa and learn about the history of CSCS, our current projects, and how YOU can take action and get involved. Everyone welcome and refreshments will be provided. 

When: Tuesday May 19th, 5:30-7pm
Where: Centretown CHC, 420 Cooper St., Ottawa (map
RSVP on Facebook 

Everyone is welcome and refreshments will be provided. Bus tickets are available to those in need of transportation. Centretown CHC is wheel chair accessible.

We hope to see you there!

New report suggests Ottawa drug users would benefit from safe injection site

A new study suggests a significant number of Ottawa’s most serious drug addicts would use a safe injection site if one ever opened in this city.

The study, prepared for a group that wants to bring at least two safe injection sites to Ottawa, found that 75.4 per cent of surveyed addicts said they would be prepared to use a facility where they could inject drugs with clean needles under medical supervision.

That level of participation would reduce overdose deaths and offer huge health benefits to drug users, who suffer high rates of HIV and Hepatitis-C, while also improving the safety of downtown streets made hazardous by discarded needles, advocates said Thursday at a community meeting held to discuss the study.

“I think it shows that, contrary to popular belief, drug users are actually interested in their health,” said Rob Boyd, director of a program at Sandy Hill Community Health Centre that offers harm reduction and health services to drug users and sex workers.

“I think it shows they’re interested in ways of using drugs that are less harmful and that they don’t want to be using drugs publicly,” he said. “We all want a solution to drug use on the curb.”

Q&A: Are Supervised Injection Sites Effective?

Supervised Injection Sites, or SIS, has been a contentious issue in Ottawa for almost a decade.

Some see them located in Ottawa neighbourhoods as a cause for concern, others see it as a solution to the city's drug problem.

On Thursday, members of the Participatory Research in Ottawa: Understanding Drugs (or PROUD) released results of their city-wide survey relating to SIS. The study surveyed 858 drug users between March 2013 and January 2014.

The Sun spoke with Chris Dalton, knowledge translation co-ordinator of the study, to discuss the results and what they mean to the study group, drug users and communities.

Q: What do the results of the study show and tell you?

A: The data shows that people in Ottawa who are affected by addiction are the people who want and need these sites in order to feel safe and be healthy by not sharing dirty needles and spreading diseases like HIV or Hepatitis C.

Q: Why does Ottawa need a SIS?

A: Addiction is like any other disease out there. These people have a health problem and they need treatment that is humane, compassionate and proven to work.

International Harm Reduction Day in Ottawa - May 7, 2015

To celebrate International Harm Reduction Day, we will be co-hosting a discussion of Bill C-2 and the future of supervised injection services in Ottawa with community members, people who use drugs, service providers, and researchers.

Thursday, May 7th 2015
1:30pm - 3:30pm
St. Brigid’s Centre, 310 St. Patrick Street, Ottawa

(Entrance on Cumberland street)
Refreshments will be provided.

Researchers from the PROUD project (Participatory Research in Ottawa: Understanding Drugs) will present data from their study relating to supervised injection services. PROUD is a community-based research project that examines HIV risk among people who use drugs in Ottawa.

RSVP on Facebook

International Harm Reduction Day - Ottawa, May 7 2015

Politicians at all levels agree to ignore the evidence with Bill C-2

There was rare harmony between our federal, provincial and local politicians last week as they gathered to announce the feds’ $62-million contribution to the Ottawa River Action Plan.

The infrastructure upgrade, which will reduce the filth flowing into the Ottawa River, is pretty uncontroversial. Who favours pollution?

And who doesn’t like to see our officials from different levels and parties play nice? Depends what they’re playing at.

Pierre Poilievre, the federal minister responsible for our region, later talked to Metro to tout the investment, but also to defend Bill C-2, The Respect For Communities Act, passed by the House of Commons last month, which raises new barriers to opening supervised injection sites for intravenous drug users.

Minister defends bill requiring consultation on injection site applications

The federal government would be irresponsible if it did not insist that recently tabled legislation regarding drug injection sites include provisions requiring community consultation, says a Conservative cabinet minister.

“This is clearly a matter of public health and public safety, and I think Canadians would expect the minister of health to listen carefully to the municipal and community leaders in a jurisdiction where an injection house is proposed,” Pierre Poilievre, the Minister of Employment and Social Development, said in an interview Wednesday.

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