Opening Canada’s first Health Canada-approved supervised consumption sites

Tobie Patterson, Aamir Bharmal, Shovita Padhi, Chris Buchner, Erin Gibson, Victoria Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Setting: In response to the opioid overdose crisis, a Public Health Emergency was declared in British Columbia (BC) in April 2016. There were 1448 deaths in BC in 2017 (30.1 deaths per 100,000 individuals). Intervention: Approximately one third of all overdose deaths in BC in 2016 (333/993) and 2017 (482/1448) occurred within the region served by Fraser Health Authority (FH). We identified a need for a supervised drug use site in Surrey, the city with FH’s highest number of overdose deaths in 2016 (n = 122). In order to ensure low-barrier services, FH underwent an internal assessment for a supervised drug use site and determined that a supervised injection site was unlikely to meet the needs of individuals who consumed their drugs using other routes, choosing instead to apply for an exemption to the Controlled Drug and Substances Act in order to open a Supervised Consumption Site (SCS). Outcomes: In assessing population needs, injection was identified as the mode of drug administration in only 32.8% of overdose deaths in FH from 2011 to 2016. Other routes of drug (co-) administration included oral (30.6%); smoking (28.8%); intranasal (24.2%); and unknown/other (17.1%). Interviews with potential service users confirmed drug (co-) administration behaviours and identified other aspects of service delivery, such as hours and co-located services that would help align the services better with client needs. With Health Canada’s approval, SafePoint in Surrey opened for supervised injection on June 8, 2017 and received an exemption to allow oral and intranasal consumption on June 26, 2017. Implications: By assessing drug use practices, the evolving needs of people who use substances, and tailoring services to local context, we can potentially engage with individuals earlier in their substance use trajectory to improve the utility of services and prevent more overdoses and overdose deaths.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)581-584
Number of pages4
JournalCanadian Journal of Public Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018


  • Harm reduction
  • Illicit drug overdose
  • Injection drug use
  • Overdose crisis
  • Overdose deaths
  • Substance use disorder
  • Supervised consumption
  • Supervised injection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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