Provincial Press Release June 2, 2021 @ 1:55 pm published 4:08 pm
Alberta is the first province in Canada to require quality standards for supervised consumption services, which will improve community safety, provide higher quality services and increase integration with the health-care system.
“Alberta’s government is committed to supporting people experiencing addiction while also maintaining the safety and security of communities and neighbourhoods. This new framework will bring supervised consumption services into a comprehensive and integrated addiction treatment system – not only to address a person’s immediate need, but also to support them in accessing the health-care system and achieving lifelong recovery.” Jason Luan, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions
To be licensed, supervised consumption site (SCS) service providers will need to follow requirements related to:
the safety and security of clients, employees and the surrounding community
standardized data collection
staff qualifications and training
clinical practice standards
good neighbour agreements
physical site requirements, such as having access to washrooms for clients
Details of these requirements are found in the new Mental Health Services Protection Regulation and the Recovery-oriented Overdose Prevention Services Guide.
Service providers will also need to demonstrate clearly defined referral pathways to detox, treatment and recovery services as well as primary health-care services.
Supervised consumption services remain an important part of Alberta’s addiction and mental health system. These quality standards will provide greater provincial oversight and help improve services for clients as well as community relations.
“Supervised consumption services play an important role in helping prevent opioid deaths and reducing harms associated with substance use. By providing meaningful opportunities to engage with people who use drugs we can further support their care and recovery.” Dr. Nicholas Mitchell, provincial medical director, Addiction and Mental Health, Alberta Health Services
“I’m pleased to hear about the new regulations that are being released by the Government of Alberta. As a health-care organization that has been accredited for over 10 years, I know the benefits of having high standards in place and strongly believe that clear regulations in this sector will ensure that these particularly vulnerable Albertans have access to high-quality, better integrated addiction and mental health services.” Lorette Garrick, chief executive officer, George Spady Society
“The Edmonton Police Service strongly supports provincial licensing requirements. This is an encouraging step in implementing minimum standards for supervised consumption services, creating a greater continuum of care and support for some of our most vulnerable citizens. We look forward to working with our partners and the provincial government in taking this critical step toward collectively improving community safety and well-being.” Dale McFee, chief of police, Edmonton Police Service
The new quality standards will apply to existing supervised consumption services and any prospective service providers in Alberta, building on requirements from the Government of Canada.
Alberta currently has supervised consumption and overdose prevention sites in Calgary, Red Deer, Lethbridge, Edmonton and Grande Prairie. Government staff will work closely with these service providers to support licensing compliance.
Supervised consumption sites and services provide a hygienic place for people to use pre-obtained illicit drugs while being monitored by trained employees. Employees are available to respond to people in medical distress and connect people to detox, treatment and recovery services as well as other health-care services.
Health Canada is responsible for granting exemptions under Section 56.1 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to allow supervised consumption sites to operate. Overdose prevention sites require a similar exemption under Section 56(1) of the act or a letter of authorization from the Government of Alberta under the authority of the province’s class exemption. Alberta’s new quality standards do not change this need for an exemption.
Alberta’s government has committed $140 million over four years to enhance the addiction and mental health system and create more publicly funded treatment spaces. This funding includes $40 million specifically to support opioid response.
Albertans struggling with addiction can call the Addiction Helpline at 1-866-332-2322 for support, information and referral to services. The confidential, toll-free line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.