(Direct link to Map | SCS Source: Health Canada | OPS Sources: BC Regional Health Authorities- Fraser Health, Interior Health, Northern Health, Island Health, Vancouver Coastal Health)
About this map
This map shows supervised consumption sites (SCS) across the country and overdose prevention sites (OPS) in BC. Click on the icon for information about each site. Click the button in the top righthand corner of the map to view a larger map.
SCS data is updated regularly according to Health Canada's "Supervised consumption sites: status of applications" page. OPS data is sourced from BC's Regional Health Authorities: Fraser Health, Interior Health, Northern Health, Island Health, and Vancouver Coastal Health. We do not currently list OPS in other provinces and, as such, not all OPS are shown on this map.
For corrections and additions, please contact: getinvolved[at]pivotlegal[dot]org
Last Updated: August 25th, 2021
What’s the difference between an SCS and an OPS?
Supervised consumption sites (SCS) and overdose prevention sites (OPS) share many features, but they are distinct, both legally and practically.
SCS are facilities that have been exempted by Health Canada under section 56.1 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Inside an SCS, people can use their own illicit drugs (and staff can witness them) without being prosecuted for drug possession. In addition to witnessed injection and emergency overdose response, SCS typically offer a range of other support services to clients, including referrals to treatment programs and access to housing supports. Procedurally, establishing a SCS is laborious and time-consuming: It can take several years get an approval, since the exemption application must include information about the site’s policies and procedures, personnel, financial plan, local conditions, and community consultation. Though SCS afford a degree of stability and longevity, operators must still apply to extend an exemption periodically (usually annually).
OPS were established as a community-based response to overdose deaths and the sluggish bureaucracy associated with SCS applications. OPS tend to be peer-run, barer-bones facilities (sometimes consisting of a tent in a public park) where people can use their own illicit drugs, access sterile harm reduction equipment, and receive emergency overdose response as needed. Many people prefer OPS to SCS, and OPS fill a critical gap in the spectrum of harm reduction: OPS are lower-barrier than SCS and offer the expertise and direct experience of experiential “peer” workers. Oftentimes, they allow modes of consumption that are prohibited in most SCS, such as drug inhalation. Unlike SCS, OPS do not require an exemption from Health Canada. They began as “pop up” sites led by people who use drugs. Now in BC, they usually run via an Order from the Minister of Health, which requires Emergency Health Services and the Health Authorities to ensure OPS are available throughout the Province. However, in some other Provinces (i.e. Ontario), OPS run via a temporary, Province-wide exemption from the federal government. OPS are nimble and can be set up quickly to respond to the immediate needs of people who use drugs. Despite the huge success of OPS in saving lives (and the existence of a Ministerial Order), many municipalities and Health Authorities have failed in their responsibilities and remain hostile to folks who courageously set up OPS in their communities.
Read CAPUD’s important guide to setting up an OPS
We owe the existence of SCS and OPS to the direct action of people who use drugs. Long before Insite became the first sanctioned SCS in North America, people who use drugs were running their own injection rooms and needle exchanges to save lives in the face of government inaction and the War on Drugs. As is always the case, folks had to save their own lives first, at tremendous personal risk, before government came around to the idea of supervised injection. In Canada, the provision of OPS is sorely inadequate, and people who use drugs continue to shoulder the burden of saving lives as municipalities and health authorities stand by idly and, at times, with hostility. SCS and OPS save lives: no one has ever died at either type of facility.