Programming Connection

Harm Reduction Satellite Sites Program 

Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre
Toronto, ON

What is the Program?

The Harm Reduction Satellite Sites Program at Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre (PQWCHC) employs people with lived experience of drug use (peers) as satellite site workers (SSWs). SSWs provide harm reduction supplies (e.g., injection and smoking supplies), overdose response training and naloxone, safe needle disposal and other supports (e.g., referrals to health and social services) from their residences (referred to as satellite sites).

The goal of the program is to reach people who use drugs and who do not, or cannot, access traditional harm reduction programs. The program uses a “secondary distribution” model, where SSWs obtain supplies from a harm reduction program and then distribute these supplies to their networks and among neighbours in the buildings where they live.

PQWCHC is a community-based health service organization. Services offered include primary healthcare, dental care, harm reduction, health promotion, counselling and community development programming. The Harm Reduction Satellite Sites Program is embedded in the PQWCHC. It was started eight years ago on an informal basis and has since been formalized and expanded. The program is modelled after the Satellite Site program at the South Riverdale Community Health Centre, which was developed by drug user activist and harm reduction pioneer Raffi Balian.