Contact: [email protected]
Address: 134 Sherbourne Street (just South of Queen)
Sunday and Monday – CLOSED
Tuesday – Saturday 10:30am – 10:00pm (last call typically 1 hour before close)
The Moss Park CTS began as a volunteer initiative run by the Toronto Overdose Prevention Society. As of July 2018, Moss Park CTS is now run by staff of South Riverdale Community Health Centre at an indoor location in the Moss Park community. It has an exemption from Health Canada to operate, and funding from the Government of Ontario. As a satellite of SRCHC the Moss Park CTS assists service users to connect to the wide variety of programs and services that are offered at South Riverdale CHC’s 955 location. In addition, many health and social service supports are provided on-site.
The site hosts a Hep C clinic, drop-in Nurse Practitioner services, women’s support services on Thursdays, and arts and food programming on Fridays. The Moss Park site also runs a robust volunteer program, through which community members help clean up the neighbourhood, provide outreach and harm reduction education to the broader community, and put together harm reduction kits for distribution. The site also provides harm reduction supplies such as naloxone kits, safe disposal supplies and clean syringes and pipes.
The Moss Park community has been deeply impacted by the overdose crisis which as seen significant increases in overdoses since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Prior to COVID-19, the average number of fatal calls attended by paramedics in Toronto for suspected opioid overdoses per month was 13. During 2020, it increased to 26. In 2021, there were 6,005 non-fatal calls and 357 fatal calls attended by Toronto Paramedics Services for suspected opioid overdoses, a 65 percent increase overall compared to 2020. Overall there were 511 overdose deaths in Toronto in 2021.
Overdose prevention and supervised consumption services promote health and increase access to health and social services. Research has found that these services attract people who face barriers to mainstream health care, promote safer injection practices, decrease injection frequency, enhance access to primary care and increase access to other health and social services (including detox and addiction treatment programs).
Consumption & Treatment Services save lives. They prevent fatal overdoses, the transmission of serious diseases and offer a low barrier connection to health care and social services. Harm reduction staff including nurses are onsite to provide overdose response, medical care and referrals.
Overdose prevention and supervised injection services improve public safety by reducing issues such as public injecting and discarded needles. Studies of supervised injection services elsewhere in Canada have found no increases in drug trafficking or assaults/robbery, and a decline in vehicle break-ins/vehicle theft.
Community support for supervised consumption services is strong. In a spring 2016 online survey completed by over 1,200 people regarding SIS implementation, 96% of respondents thought that providing small-scale SIS in Toronto would be beneficial. In March 2016, more than 50 Toronto community leaders signed a statement calling for the city to establish supervised injection services. Support for the Moss Park OPS was enormous. The volunteer-run site received over $100,000 in financial donations, had over 150 volunteers who ran the service and received numerous in-kind donations including a food, clothing, medical supplies, tents and a trailer.
The criminalization of drug use, together with historical and ongoing structural oppression’s and the subsequent stigma and neglect of people who use drugs by our health and social service system creates multiple barriers to health and well-being for this group. The overdose crisis will not be solved by CTS alone.
Consumption and Treatment Services: Impact
- In June 2023, our Sherbourne St CTS location saw 268 unique individuals using this CTS which has up to 100 visits per day. The number of service users per day can fluctuate greatly each day. The illicit drug supply is unpredictable in its toxicity and composition. If overdoses are frequent or prolonged then the capacity of the service may be reduced.
- The Sherbourne St CTS had over 14,000 visits for drug consumption in 2022 and there have been over 7,000 visits in the first six months of 2023.
- Sherbourne St CTS staff reversed 875 overdoses in 2021.
- CTS is a health care service. CTS staff also make referrals to health and social services and provide primary care to service users directly
- In 2022, Sherbourne St CTS staff made the following referrals to health and social services:
- 65 to substance use services (detox, treatment program, methadone, safer supply)
- 230 referrals to mental health services (case management, treatment program)
- 283 referrals to primary care and hospital services
- 376 referrals to social services (Indigenous health promoter, shelter, group programs, ID replacement, legal support, social assistance support, housing)
- Preliminary data by researchers at Unity Health who are conducting the evaluation of supervised consumption services in Toronto found that the proportion of service users who participated in a drug/alcohol treatment or detox program in the last six months was significantly greater than the proportion of non-service users:
- 53% of recent SCS service users vs. 43% of non-service users recently participated in a drug/alcohol treatment or detox program
- 38% of recent SCS service users vs. 25% of non-service users participated in a methadone maintenance program in the last 6 months
- The evaluation has found that SCS service users were more likely to:
- Participate in a drug/alcohol treatment or detox program in the past 6 months
- Participate in a methadone maintenance program in the past 6 months
- Receive medication to manage drug or alcohol use
- The evaluation has also found that people in Toronto who use SCS experience multiple forms of social and structural vulnerability and are at high-risk for overdose death:
- The vast majority of SCS service users were homeless or unstably housed (91%)
- One-third were Indigenous
- Approximately half (48%) reported fentanyl as their most frequently injected drug. (Note: Fentanyl was found in 94% of those who died from opioids during the pandemic. Toronto’s Drug Checking Service continues to find that opioids are significantly more contaminated than other drug types)
References and for more information:
- Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation, SCS evaluation: https://cdpe.org/project/integrated-supervised-injection-services-evaluation/#
- Drug Checking Project: https://drugchecking.cdpe.org/resources/
The views expressed in the publication are the views of the recipient and do not necessarily reflect those of the Province.