Harm Reduction

The Works:

Toronto Public Health's Harm Reduction Program for people who use drugs

Toronto Public Health (TPH) provides programs and services to reduce drug related harms for people who use drugs including preventing the spread of communicable diseases.

The Works opened its doors on August 9, 1989. During the last 25 years, The Works has played an integral role in reducing drug use related harms in Toronto by taking leadership in the area of harm reduction. This is a time of celebration of the success of The Works, recognizing the contribution of current and former staff.

Training: Opioid Overdose Education, Prevention & Response

In response to increasing concerns about opioid overdose in Toronto, The Works, Toronto Public Health is providing training for community agency staff to assist them in responding to opioid overdose in their agency.  In this training, staff will learn about the signs of opioid overdose, risk factors for opioid overdose, how to monitor spaces where overdose might occur and how to respond to an opioid overdose including how to administer naloxone. 

NOTE: Naloxone kits will not be provided to participants

 

Register here for the training.

Services Provided by The Works

Harm Reduction Supplies and Counselling

The Works in partnership with community agencies provides counselling and distribution of free harm reduction supplies.

    • safer injection equipment: needles and syringes in various sizes and brands, sterile water, alcohol swabs, tourniquets, filters, acidifiers, and cookers
    • safer smoking equipment: Pyrex stems, brass screens, chop sticks, and mouthpieces
    • safer sex products: condoms and lube

Methadone Works - Opioid Substitution Clinic

We offer a harm reduction based opioid substitution program that includes methadone and suboxone. Services offered include: counselling, support, and referrals to housing and other community services. This is a self-directed, client-centred program that does not require abstinence. No take-home doses.

Naloxone kits and Overdose Response Training (>POINT program)

The POINT program provides training to opioid users and their peers/family in recognizing the signs of overdose and ways to reduce the potential for overdose. Program participants are trained on how to administer Naloxone in cases of opioid overdose.  Participants who are current or former opioid users are provided with a take-home Naloxone kit that contains Naloxone and instructions on how to use it.

Testing and Vaccination

The Works provides testing for: HIV (anonymous and Rapid testing available), Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B and Syphilis. We offer free vaccines for Hepatitis A and B, Tetanus, Pneumococcal and Influenza.

Mobile Outreach

The Works Van is on the road Monday to Saturday from 6:30pm – 11:30pm. Services include: distributing harm reduction supplies & counselling. POINT training, testing and vaccinations are also available.

Supervised Injection Services

City Council Vote:

On July 12, 2016, Toronto City Council adopted the Board of Health's recommendations for the implementation of three (3) supervised injection services co-located at Toronto Public Health's The Works, Queen West Central Toronto Community Health Centre and South Riverdale Community Health Centre.

What happens now?

Next steps for supervised injection services in Toronto are:

  • Requesting support from the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care; and  
  • An exemption application to Section 56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) submitted to Health Canada.


Work on these items has begun, and we anticipate submission of both documents by fall 2016.

Community Advisory Committee/Information Sharing:

During the SIS consultation, it was evident that if implemented, people want to be involved either through participation on the Community Advisory Committee or through receipt of information about service progress. Updates will be made available through The Works, and outreach for community for representation on the Community Advisory Committee will begin later this fall. 

For more information on Supervised Injection Services, see Frequently Asked Questions

Support for Community Agencies

In order to increase harm reduction access in Toronto, The Works provides safer drug use supplies, education and program support to many community agencies across the city. Becoming a community partner is a process that requires a legally binding service agreement, adequate insurance and an on-going, genuine commitment to the harm reduction model. Please see Become a Partner Agency for details.