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Canadian Supervised Consumption Sites Statistics — 2017 to 2019

Supervised consumption sites (SCS) are facilities where people can consume pre-obtained drugs under the supervision of trained staff. SCS provide people who use drugs with a safe, non-judgemental environment, sterile consumption equipment, and services that include social, medical, and mental health care. The main goals of SCS are to help prevent overdose deaths, facilitate entry into addiction treatment programs, reduce the spread of bloodborne infections (e.g., HIV, hepatitis C), and reduce the strain on emergency medical services.

For more information on supervised consumption sites, please visit Health Canada’s Supervised Consumption Sites and Services page.

Icon of a bar chart showing growth

2 million visits

  • Canadian SCS saw around 2 million visits between 2017 and 2019.
  • Currently (early 2020), with 39 sites operating, it is estimated that around 3,000 visits take place every day. The busiest SCS in Canada see upwards of 500 visits each day.

Icon of a pill warning representing an overdose

15,000 overdoses and medical emergencies

  • Canadian SCS attended to around 15,000 overdoses and drug-related medical emergencies between 2017 and 2019, with no reported fatalities on-site.
  • The number of overdose events and emergencies prevented through harm reduction counselling provided by SCS staff is difficult to estimate.

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At least 35,000 unique clients

  • Based on the data available, it is estimated that at least 35,000 Canadians had sought services provided by SCS between 2017 and 2019.

Figure 1. Gender distribution of SCS clients
Figure 1: Text description
table1
Sex Percentage
Male 66%
Female 33%
Other 1%
Figure 2. Age distribution of SCS clients
Figure 2: Text description
table2
Age group Percentage
Under 20 1%
20 to 29 years 25%
30 to 39 years 34%
40 to 49 years 21%
50 to 59 years 11%
60 years and older 2%
Unknown 5%

Icon showing different forms of drugs (needle, powder, pipe and pills)

2/3 of the substances consumed were opioids

  • While the types of substances consumed by SCS clients varied by geographic location, opioids were the top class of drugs consumed at the sites between 2017 and 2019—on average, close to 2/3 of the substances consumed at the sites were opioids, with fentanyl and heroin being the most frequently consumed types.
  • The use of crystal methamphetamine, a stimulant drug that is not an opioid, was also prevalent among SCS clients.

Icon representing a referral

70,000 referrals

  • SCS connect receptive clients to substance use treatment and other health and social services that include medical care, mental health support, and/or housing services.
  • Canadian SCS made around 70,000 referrals to such services between 2017 and 2019.

Acknowledgments

These data were made possible through a collaboration between Canada’s supervised consumption sites and Health Canada.

Notes on the data

Number of clients: The true number of unique clients visiting the sites between 2017 and 2019 is difficult to estimate. Anonymous visits and inconsistent reporting by the sites make it difficult to derive a precise and accurate estimate.

Number of referrals: The true number of referrals made by Canadian SCS between 2017 and 2019 is difficult to estimate due to inconsistencies in how the sites defined and reported the number of referrals they made.

In addition to SCS, there are numerous Urgent Public Health Need Sites (UPHNS)/Overdose Prevention Sites (OPS) operating across Canada. The numbers presented in this publication do not include data from UPHNS/OPS.

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