Programming Connection

Harm Reduction Satellite Sites Program 

Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre
Toronto, ON


In the one-year period between July 2018 and June 2019, the SSWs connected with 206 individuals who were not previously connected with the PQWCHC or other harm reduction services. The following approximate numbers of supplies were distributed among seven SSWs during this period:

  • 78,000 needles
  • 5,124 crystal meth and crack pipes
  • 380 naloxone kits

Data gathered in June 2016 through client questionnaires administered by the SSWs (16 respondents) indicate that:

  • 94% of individuals who accessed services at a satellite site reported encountering fewer challenges when accessing sterile needles (or other harm reduction equipment) at a satellite site than at traditional sites or via other methods of accessing sterile material.
  • 25% of satellite site clients reported having accessed HIV or hepatitis C testing or treatment services as a result of accessing services at a satellite site.
  • 100% cited convenience as the main reason why they chose to access their harm reduction supplies through a satellite site, 56% cited anonymity/discretion as the main reason, and 56% said it was because the satellite site allowed them to access supplies through a peer (person who uses drugs).
  • 75% of clients of satellite sites reported knowing more about how to prevent, or respond to, an overdose since accessing a satellite site.

What SSWs say about the program:

“Knowing people are getting safe injection and smoking stuff, knowing that people are using safely and that I’m a part of making that happen, it feels good.”

“My biggest accomplishment? Definitely saving lives. Nothing beats that. I like to think also that I’ve made some difference in my role in my time as a satellite worker. These are pioneering jobs, and we’re defining them, in terms of what they look like, what needs to be done, and I feel really privileged to be a part of building something like that.”

“Definitely the flow of the information is so important – so I can share this with clients, so they have the best up-to-date information of where to spend their money when the stakes are so high for all of us. Bad batches, weak batches, batches that would require twice as much water, batches that cause weird reactions.”