Harm Reduction Program
What is Harm Reduction?
Harm Reduction refers to policies, programs and practices which aim to reduce the negative health, social and economic consequences that may result from the use of both legal and illegal drugs, without necessarily reducing drug use. The cornerstones of Harm Reduction are public health, human rights and social justice.
Harm Reduction is underpinned with the knowledge that many drug-related problems are not the result of the drugs themselves; rather they are the consequences of the unregulated manufacture and trade of drugs and the enduring commitment to failed policies and ineffective and unfairly-applied laws.
Finally, Harm Reduction ensures that people who use substances are treated with respect and without stigma, and that substance-related problems and issues are addressed systemically.
Source: Canadian Harm Reduction Network
Harm Reduction Program
Street Health’s Harm Reduction team supports individuals who struggle with complex challenges such as: substance use and dependency, homelessness and mental health concerns.
We provide both needle exchange and stem distribution services, for the purpose of reducing disease transmission and to build relationships with individuals who may be isolated by stigma and discrimination. Our clients face serious risks related to their homelessness and their substance use/dependency.
Beyond just offering supplies and education, we aim to provide a non-judgmental and accepting atmosphere that empowers clients instead of stigmatizing them based on their substance use.
Distribution - We distribute safer drug use kits for both injection and smoking. Kits can be obtained on site at Street Health during office hours. Likewise, the Harm Reduction team distributes supplies through street outreach services: hours and routes vary; please call the office for updated information.
Street Health facilitates drop-in programming in partnership with and located at the Regent Park Community Health Centre (465 Dundas St. East)
- The Drug Information Program [DIP] Drop-in takes place on Monday mornings from 9:30-12:00. This drop in offers individuals who use drugs access to: healthy food, showers and laundry services, peer support, case management services, nursing care and harm reduction workers.
- The Women’s Drop-in program runs on Thursday mornings from 9:00 – 12pm. This program is facilitated for women who engage in sex work and/or substance use, and offers: peer support, counselling services, health care, healthy food, showers, and laundry.
Kit-Making- We have weekly kit making groups where community members come together to help assemble our safer drug use kits. Involving the community in this process, especially volunteers who also have lived experience with drugs and homelessness, helps to foster a greater sense of empowerment and belonging.
Harm Reduction Support Workers
Street Health employs a team of dedicated Harm Reduction Support Workers (formerly known as peer workers), who have lived experience with drug use and homelessness, to help facilitate drop-in programs, distribute supplies and educational materials on site, as well as provide street outreach.
They give health and social service workers currency within communities typically referred to as "hard to reach”. A peer worker will typically offer a sense of belonging, acceptance, support, education, encouragement and understanding that builds community and enhances the accessibility of our services. Working with peers who are active in substance use can be useful in dispelling myths. It demands that other service providers see the person differently and recognize the peer’s skills and knowledge, showing us how to relate differently with the population as a whole. The inclusion of peer workers adds authenticity to the work that we do.
For more information about our Harm Reduction programs and services,