Programming Connection

Harm Reduction Peer Backpack and Vending Machine Project  

Saskatchewan Health Authority

What is the Program?

The Harm Reduction Peer Backpack and Vending Machine Project aims to increase the distribution of harm reduction supplies (e.g., needles, pipes) in the rural Saskatchewan communities of North Battleford, Cut Knife, Lloydminster, Meadow Lake and Green Lake to decrease the transmission of hepatitis C and HIV.  The program distributes harm reduction supplies through the use of peer backpackers (current or former injection drug users) who distribute supplies on foot from backpacks and through a mobile outreach van and a fixed-site harm reduction room and who maintain harm reduction vending machines located in rural towns. People with the lived experience of drug use guided the development of the program.

The program’s strength is its strong peer component. At the core of the program is its ability to empower people who currently or previously injected drugs to strengthen their skills and to help other people who inject drugs. 

The program was funded in February 2019 by the Public Health Agency of Canada through the Harm Reduction Fund.