After years of research, consultations, community engagement, planning, exemption and funding applications, advocacy, and dedicated work by staff and our community, South Riverdale Community Health Centre (SRCHC)’s “keepSIX” Supervised Consumption Site (SCS), now known as Consumption and Treatment Service (CTS), opened its doors on November 27, 2017.
KeepSIX assists service users to connect to the wide variety of programs and services offered at South Riverdale CHC. There is a Sharing Circle, Women’s Circle, Women’s Only drop ins, a Hep C clinic, Nurse Practitioner, and Social Workers. KeepSIX provides outreach and harm reduction education to the broader community, and provides harm reduction kits for distribution, as well as harm reduction supplies such as naloxone kits, safe disposal supplies and clean syringes and pipes. KeepSIX also provides naloxone training in the community.
A CTS is a health service where people inject, snort or orally consume pre-obtained drugs in a safe, hygienic and welcoming environment under the supervision of trained staff. More than 100 CTSs are operating worldwide, including several cities across Canada. An extension of our comprehensive health and harm reduction programs and services for people who use drugs, keepSIX is Toronto’s second Health Canada-approved and Canada’s first community health centre-embedded CTS.
In March 2016, Toronto’s then Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David McKeown made a presentation to the Board of Health about the need for CTS in Toronto. A variety of community consultation activities about CTS took place over April & May of 2016. For SRCHC, consultations regarding the addition of CTS at SRCHC included an online survey, Open House events, focus groups, presentations to schools and other community groups, individual meetings and tours of the Centre. We heard from nearly 600 people. Overall, the vast majority of people consulted saw the benefits of such a service to our community. Since this process began, the overdose crisis has become a public health emergency and many of our community members have died–underscoring the need for this vital space.
For SRCHC, providing a safe, supportive, nonjudgmental space where people can use drugs, is a natural extension of the harm reduction work the agency has been doing for twenty years. The criminalization of drug use-together with historical and ongoing structural oppressions and the subsequent stigma and neglect of people who use drugs by health and social service systems-creates multiple barriers to health and well-being that KeepSIX will help address.
keepSIX-the name of our CTS, meaning “got your back”-is an homage to Raffi Balian, founder of SRCHC’s COUNTERfit Harm Reduction Program and lifelong advocate for people who use drugs.
- 955 Queen Street East
- Toronto, ON M4M 3P3