Supervised consumption services (SCS) include at a minimum, sage and hygienic services provided for people at specified sites where persons may use pre-obtained, illicit drugs with supervision from trained staff. Current evidence shows that SCS can lead to fewer overdose-related deaths, lowered risk of infections like hepatitis C and HIV, less publicly discarded injection equipment, and increased provision of medical and social support to vulnerable individuals (e.g. detox and addiction treatment services).
Currently, there are no SCS sites in Alberta to support a harm reduction approach to illicit drug use. Persons at SCS sites are not protected from certain prosecutions under federal legislation unless the federal Minister of Health has provided an appropriate exemption under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Applicants for a federal exemption must provide information related to a number of criteria – and must demonstrate need for SCS in a particular location – before an exemption application will be considered by the federal Minister of Health. Edmonton is the only city in Alberta where work is underway to develop a federal exemption application.
The purpose of this Project is to support work to assess the need for SCS in various locations in Alberta and to support the development of federal exemption applications for SCS in Alberta where there is a demonstrated need for these health services. An additional purpose of this Project is to provide funding to support the development of a draft federal exemption application for one of more sites in Calgary where preliminary assessment that indicates there is likely a need for SCS in at least on Calgary location. Further, if needs assessments in other Alberta locations indicate a need for SCS, funds may be used to develop draft applications for sites outside of Edmonton or Calgary.
The needs assessments will collect relevant information and data to demonstrate the need and public health benefits of potential SCS, if any. This will assist in planning services and supports throughout the province.
The goals of SCS are to:
- Reduce health risks associated with drug use, such as the transmission of infectious disease from the sharing of used drug equipment and overdose-related deaths;
- Improve access to health and social services for a marginalized population;
- Facilitate connections to addictions treatment and enhance health behaviours;
- Contribute to the safety and quality of life of communities by reducing the nuisances of public drug use such as litter of used needles.
The ACCH member organizations that are eligible for funds are already established, and work at the project sites is underway. The following are the Alberta Health directed project sites:
- HIV North Society - Grand Prairie
- HIV North Society - Fort McMurray
- HIV West Yellowhead - Edson
- Turning Point - Red Deer
- HIV Community Link - Medicine Hat
- ARCHES - Lethbridge
- HIV Community Link and Safeworks - Calgary
Role of ACCH:
- To hold the grant agreement with Alberta Health for the purposes described above and disperse funds to ACCH member organizations as necessary (per the grant agreement);
- To support exemption application development in Calgary (and in other areas if needs assessment indicates and funds allow);
- To provide all of the eligible ACCH member organizations receiving this fund with the Alberta Health approved work plan template identifying basic criteria for assessing need for SCS;
- To support all approved organizations in the collection of data, coalition building, and other related activities for the needs assessments and application development, as required;
- To provide Alberta Health with an overarching provincial roll-up of data and all other information and reports from approved organizations as set out in this Proposal; and
- To provide Alberta Health with Calgary’s draft of a completed federal exemption application and other draft applications as well, if initiated or developed, in part or in full, by the other organizations.