Gateway Gazette

Impact of Supervised Consumption Sites Report Released

The final report of the expert-led Supervised Consumption Services Review Committee is now available online.

The Supervised Consumption Services Review Committee listened to more than 19,000 Albertans’ concerns about the impacts supervised consumption services (SCS) sites are having on their homes, businesses and neighbourhoods.

The final report contains the committee’s findings regarding needle debris, social disorder, public safety and other concerns. The committee found serious problems with supervised consumption services as they are currently being operated, and provided thoughtful considerations for improving services and community safety, while building a comprehensive recovery-oriented system of care that offers the greatest chance to lift vulnerable Albertans with addiction out of their current plight.

“This report is a wake-up call for Alberta. Every one of us deserves to feel safe in our communities, and every Albertan struggling with addiction should be able to access the supports they need. We will consider this report, and all other relevant evidence, as we develop a comprehensive, long-term approach that works. That means improving addiction treatment services and supports to create a full continuum of care across the province.”Jason Luan, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions

“Crime grows in areas where illegal drug use is on the rise. Our government supports a firm justice system that includes investigating, disrupting and dismantling the organized crime groups that supply and sell illegal drugs that fuel addiction, ruin people’s lives and take a terrible toll on our communities. We’ll continue to ensure law enforcement and the justice system have the tools and resources to protect community safety.Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General

“Thank you to all Albertans who participated in this process. Our committee was given a mandate to hear from people across the province on all sides of this important issue. The findings in this report demonstrate the compassion many Albertans feel for their neighbours and their commitment to creating safe, welcoming communities for everyone.”Rod Knecht, chair, Supervised Consumption Services Review Committee

“Our committee heard from thousands of passionate Albertans, and reviewed a wide range of data and evidence sources to examine what impact these services are having on the communities around them. The findings may be difficult for some to hear, but are vital to improving the health and well-being of those who use the sites and those who live in surrounding neighbourhoods.”Geri Bemister-Williams, vice-chair, Supervised Consumption Services Review Committee

Key findings from the report include:

  • Increased needle debris and deteriorating public safety around the sites were significant concerns raised during the town halls, through the surveys and in stakeholder meetings.
  • While there were no deaths recorded among people at the SCS sites, death rates in the immediate vicinity of the sites after the sites opened continued to increase along with province-wide rates of opioid deaths.
  • Opioid-related calls for emergency medical services also increased in the immediate vicinity following the opening of the sites.
  • Many people indicated they felt less safe in the areas surrounding the SCS sites after they opened.
  • Lack of focus on referrals to detoxification and treatment resources.
  • Inconsistent and often inaccurate classification of “overdose reversals.”
  • Substantial increases in the use of non-opioid substance use, specifically methamphetamines, leading to aggressive behaviour endangering public safety.

Over the coming months, the government will consider changes to supervised consumption services and other addiction treatment and recovery resources, on a city-by-city basis.

Quick facts

  • The eight-member committee included First Nations people, experts in addiction and recovery, harm reduction, mental health, trauma, pain management, law enforcement, crime reduction and justice, as well as people with lived experience.
  • 16,831 individuals and 440 businesses submitted feedback to the committee through an online survey.
  • About 1,800 people attended the town halls in Edmonton, Red Deer, Calgary, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Grande Prairie.
  • More than 500 first responders and more than 50 stakeholder groups provided evidence and shared concerns with the committee.

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