Report of the Toronto and Ottawa Supervised Consumption Assessment Study

April 2012

Supervised injection facilities (SIFs) are places where people can inject drugs under supervision. Two SIFs exist in Canada, both in Vancouver. Other cities are considering SIFs.

Do Toronto and Ottawa need SIFs? Is implementing SIFs in these cities feasible? We analyzed evidence from a variety of sources, and developed a mathematical model to predict whether the health benefits of SIFs would balance the financial costs.

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Findings

Toronto and Ottawa would benefit from multiple SIFs. We projected that introducing three SIFs in Toronto and two in Ottawa would:

  • Reduce new hepatitis C and HIV infections.
  • Reduce public drug use, since users who inject drugs outside were particularly interested in SIFs.
  • Represent good investments of health care dollars.

Public opinion about SIFs has changed in recent years; many more residents now support SIFs.

  • About half of residents felt strongly that SIFs should be implemented, if they work well to prevent infectious disease and reduce neighbourhood problems.
  • An additional third had mixed opinions, but said they would feel better about SIFs if they had more information about them.
  • Few residents are completely against SIFs.

Although many people who inject drugs also smoke drugs, there is not enough evidence to recommend a supervised smoking facility.

Implications for health policy and practice

Our report provides an evidence base for discussions about introducing SIFs to Toronto and Ottawa.

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