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February 06, 2017

Health Canada Authorizes Three New Supervised Consumption Sites in Montreal

Statement from the Minister of Health:

The Government of Canada is committed to doing its part to address the public health crisis related to opioid overdoses and deaths across the country. Our approach must be comprehensive, collaborative, compassionate and evidence-based.

Certain communities across Canada have decided that supervised consumption sites are an appropriate tool for the realities they face. At these sites, people who use drugs are supervised by qualified staff who can provide immediate treatment in the case of an overdose. The facilities also provide sterile equipment, information about drugs and basic health care and treatment referrals. In many cases, they also provide access to other health care services. Supervised consumption sites have shown positive results in Canada as well as in other countries. Disease transmission and overdose deaths decrease, and infections, emergency room use and hospital admissions in relation to injection drug use are reduced.

International and Canadian evidence shows that, when run properly, supervised consumption sites can save lives without increasing drug use or crime in the surrounding area.

salle de consommation à moindre risque

Today, Health Canada approved a request by the Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux (CIUSSS) du Centre-Sud-de-l'Île-de-Montréal to operate three supervised consumption sites at fixed locations in Montreal. Once established and operational, the three sites will be located in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve and Ville-Marie. CIUSSS asked Health Canada for exemptions from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) to operate the three sites. The Act provides the legislative framework for the control of substances that can alter mental processes and that may produce harm when diverted or misused. Supervised consumption sites require an exemption under the Act to ensure public health and safety requirements are met.

As part of our commitment to a comprehensive drug strategy for Canada, the Minister of Public Safety, the Honourable Ralph Goodale, and I introduced legislative amendments to the CDSA and other Acts in December 2016. In addition to new enforcement measures, including the removal of the exception currently placed on border officers to only open mail weighing more than 30 grams and the regulation of illegal pill presses, this legislation will repeal the previous onerous and burdensome regime for establishing supervised consumption sites. These amendments will streamline the application process for supervised consumption sites, by aligning it with the five factors set out by the Supreme Court of Canada:

  • Impact on crime rates;
  • Local conditions indicating need;
  • Regulatory structure in place to support the facility;
  • Resources available to support its maintenance; and
  • Expressions of community support or opposition.

Building on these legislative amendments, our government also continues to work with border officials and other jurisdictions to stem the flow of illicit substances from entering Canada.

By working with our partners across Canada - including provincial and municipal governments, health professionals and first responders - we can turn the tide of this crisis.

The Honourable Jane Philpott, P.C., M.P.

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