Harm Reduction Services and Supports

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What is harm reduction?

Harm reduction is any policy, program or service that helps a person or community reduce harms related to substance use without necessarily requiring a decrease in substance use.

Harm reduction works alongside treatment, where the goal is often to decrease substance use. Prevention, treatment, and harm reduction all work together to help build healthy and safe communities.

Beyond substance use, examples of harm reduction include: Wearing a seatbelt while driving, wearing a helmet while playing some sports, or putting on sunscreen while out in the sun. We recognize that there are risks that go along with an activity, and we take steps to reduce these risks.

Why harm reduction?

In Canada and PEI, drug related overdoses are on the rise. This is driven in part by fentanyl and fentanyl analogues, which have made the illicit drug supply increasingly toxic.

According to Health Canada, during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic there was a 95% increase in apparent opioid-related deaths in Canada compared to the previous year. PEI has also seen an increase in opioid-related overdoses and deaths over the same period of time.

Harm reduction interventions have been proven to save lives and reduce costs and harms related to substance use.

What are the benefits of harm reduction?

Harm reduction services and supports have many benefits, including:

  • Preventing drug-related overdoses and deaths;
  • Preventing bacterial, viral, and other infections (i.e., HIV, Hepatitis B and C, endocarditis, cellulitis);
  • Connecting more people to treatment and other supports (i.e., addictions and mental health, medical, housing, employment and income);
  • Cost savings (i.e., reduced health spending by preventing illness and hospital admissions); and
  • Most importantly, harm reduction helps people live with greater dignity and respect for their human rights.

There is no evidence showing that harm reduction services negatively impact public safety. In fact, harm reduction services have been shown to improve public order by moving higher risk substance use from public spaces to safer private spaces, and by reducing the number of discarded sharps in public spaces.

Currently available services and supports

Currently available harm reduction services and supports include:

Harm reduction services and supports in development

The following harm reduction services and supports are currently being developed, and will be launched at a future date:

  • An Overdose Prevention Site pilot, which will provide supervised consumption services and other supports to clients;
  • Drug checking services to prevent overdoses and support public health surveillance of the illicit drug supply;
  • Increased access to harm reduction supplies such as naloxone, sterile syringes, condoms, and other supplies; and
  • Increased access to safe disposal of harm reduction supplies, which will reduce the number of sharps and other items discarded in public spaces.
Date de publication : 
le 29 Juin 2022
Santé et Mieux‑être

Renseignements généraux

Ministère de la Santé et du Mieux-être
Immeuble Shaw, 4e étage (nord)
105, rue Rochford
Charlottetown (Î.-P.-É.) C1A 7N8

Téléphone : 902-368-6414
Télécopieur : 902-368-4121