Program Category: Harm Reduction
Supervised Consumption Service
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) opened its doors on November 27, 2017.
A SCS 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 SCSs 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 SCS.
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 SCS in Toronto. A variety of community consultation activities about SCS took place over April & May of 2016. For SRCHC, consultations regarding the addition of SCS 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 SCS, 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
- (416) 778-2209