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Proposed Supervised Injection Services

Somerset West Community Health Centre believes that every person deserves access to safe and hygienic health services. We have been offering a needle exchange and other harm reduction services for 20 years. We have one of the largest and longest-running harm reduction programs in the city.

We have applied to expand our services to vulnerable residents to include a small-scale supervised injection service. This means that people who use substances can do so under supervision.

Why offer supervised injection services (SIS)?

Ottawa Public Health data shows that Somerset Ward has the second highest rates in Ottawa of drug overdose, hepatitis C and HIV. We must acknowledge and address that people who use drugs live and work in our community.

At a supervised injection service, people who use drugs also receive other health services, including:

  • Computer and phone access, clothing and other basic needs.
  • One-on-one support to help people find the resources they need. This can include basic needs like food, housing, and dental hygiene. Also navigating the legal system, mental health system, and the medical system.
  • Help to develop healthier approaches to life. This could include healthy eating and reducing how often they smoke.
  • A peer program that sees people not just as accessing services, but people who also have skills and knowledge, and can help deliver services.
  • Our medical walk-in clinic, primary care, HIV testing.

Who are these services for?

Most people who will use SIS already use SWCHC’s harm reduction program, called the Needle Exchange and Safer Inhalation (NESI) program. NESI clients are typically older and have been using drugs for a long time. Because of their lifestyles, most of these people are marginalized and are homeless or precariously housed. Many also have mental health issues.

Through NESI, clients develop trusting relationships with our health and social services workers. This makes them more likely to pursue addiction counselling and other addiction treatment services. SIS would mean people who use drugs have better access to health services.

Are these services safe?

Yes. Supervised injection services are safe. Studies show that supervised injection sites do not increase crime.

Somerset West Community Health Centre has offered a clean needle exchange and other harm reduction services for 20 years. We have offered these services without any increase in neighbourhood crime or complaints of people finding needles. 

Somerset West is creating a safer neighbourhood by making it possible for drug use to take place in a safe environment where drug paraphernalia can be disposed of responsibly.

Photo: example of small-scale supervised injection service at the Dr. Peter Centre, Vancouver.

Have you consulted the community?

Yes.  We held several public consultation sessions in March 2017 to obtain feedback from the community on our proposed model for delivering SIS.

To read a report on the community consultations, click here.

Questions?

We understand you may have questions about SIS. That’s why we’ve prepared a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

Should you have further questions, please contact:

Eugene Williams, Manager of Health Promotion & Community Programs

Phone: 613-238-8210 ext. 2243

You may also email communications@swchc.on.ca.