For people with lived and/or living experience of substance use, click below to participate in our Consumption and Treatment Services Feedback Survey
If you are a resident of Ward 3 and wish to provide general feedback please click below for our Community Consumption and Treatment Services Feedback Survey
Got questions about our plans to open a CTS site in Hamilton’s Ward 3? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions below:
Q. What is a CTS site?
A. A CTS (Consumption and Treatment Services) site is a safe, hygienic environment where people can use drugs under the supervision of trained staff.
Q. Are CTS sites legal in Ontario?
A. Yes – to operate a CTS site, an organization must go through a rigorous application process and receive approval from the Ontario Ministry of Health as well as from the Federal government through Health Canada. The AIDS Network has applied to open a CTS site, and our application is nearly complete. We are in the process of completing our final two outstanding pieces – which are conducting community consultations and demonstrating that we have municipal support. We are currently in the process of conducting our community consultations and awaiting confirmation of municipal support.
To participate in our community consultation process, please visit www.aidsnetwork.ca/cts
Q. What are the benefits of a CTS site?
A. In addition to saving lives and preventing injury through trained response to overdoses, CTS sites also help reduce the demand for EMS and police responses in the community, reduce demand for hospital services, can help reduce the transmission of HIV, Hepatitis C and other infections and provide people a safe, clean, and comfortable space to use drugs, reducing public drug use and providing space to connect with other programs and services leading to healthier communities.
Q. Why does Hamilton need two CTS sites?
A. The City of Hamilton is large enough that a single site cannot support the needs of the community. For reference, The City of Ottawa is just under twice the size of Hamilton in terms of population, and currently is supported by four active CTS sites. The City of Hamilton has already determined that we need at least two sites (2017 City of Hamilton Needs Assessment and Feasibility Study), and our application to open a second site has been endorsed by Hamilton Urban Core Community Health Centre, the organization running the current single CTS site operating in Hamilton.
In 2020, Hamilton continued to have a higher opioid-related death rate than the provincial rate (21,1 per 100,000 vs. 16.4 per 100,000). This was Hamilton’s highest annual rate to date. In 2020, 125 opioid related deaths were reported in Hamilton. This reflects a 20% increase compared to 2019.
Q. Why should the CTS site be in Ward 3?
A. In partnership with The City of Hamilton’s Public Health Services, The AIDS Network coordinates the only mobile harm reduction outreach program serving Hamilton. To date in 2021, the mobile van encountered 1016 client interactions in Hamilton, of which 38% (387 interactions) of those interactions were from Ward 3. In 2020, 42% (1333 interactions) of total Hamilton mobile van client interactions were from Ward 3.
Ward 3 has a disproportionately high rate of opioid related emergency department visits in comparison to the Hamilton rate. In 2020, rates in Ward 3 were 2 times higher than the Hamilton rate (264.5 per 100,000 vs. 116.4 per 100,000). As of February 2021, there has been 119 opioid related emergency department visits in Hamilton, of which 13% of the ED visits were from Ward 3 (15 ED visits).
In 2020, Hamilton Paramedic Emergency Services responded 565 incidents related to suspected opioid overdoses, which is close to 11 per week, or 2 per day. Of which, 25% (141 calls) of those incidents were from Ward 3. To date in 2021, Hamilton Paramedic Services has responded to 313 incidents related to suspected opioid overdoses: approximately 14 per week or more than 2 per day. Of which, 22% (69 calls) of those incidents were from Ward 3.
Q. Why is The AIDS Network the right organization to open a second CTS site?
A. The AIDS Network has been a leader in the provision of Harm Reduction programs in Hamilton for decades. Through programs such as our on-site harm reduction supply distribution program, The Van program which we operate in partnership with Hamilton Public Health Services, and our support programs for people who use drugs, we have earned the trust of the people we help and the respect of our many partners in community health, organizations, and community groups. As an AIDS Service Organization, we are uniquely positioned to provide safe and welcoming spaces to the many populations we already serve and who have historically been under-served by Harm Reduction programs and services, including Two Spirit and LGBTQ+ communities, racialized communities, and women. Our community partnerships will also allow us to offer many on-site wrap-around services, providing several holistic health and wellness options for the people we help. Additionally, The AIDS Network has secured a site in Ward 3 which will be ready to open very quickly, allowing us to respond to the urgent need for these services immediately.
Q. Will a CTS site in my neighbourhood bring people into my community who would not already be there?
A. The 2017 City of Hamilton Needs Assessment and Feasibility Study determined an area within the city where CTS sites were most urgently needed, and our application falls within this boundary. People who need access to these services are here already, and urgently in need of the life-saving support a CTS site can offer.
Q. Will a CTS site in my neighbourhood cause me to find more discarded needles in public places?
A. Not likely. Needles and other drug paraphernalia are usually found in locations where someone has used drugs, often in a setting that is not comfortable, clean, or safe and without an easy location to properly dispose of the materials. CTS sites give people who use drugs a cleaner, safer, and more comfortable environment, and so often will decrease the amount of improperly disposed-of needles found in the communities around them. It is also a requirement of the CTS application process to demonstrate that a plan is in place to address discarded needles in the proposed CTS site location.
The AIDS Network in partnership with The City of Hamilton offers our Community Points service, if you have found needles in a public space or on your property, call 905-546-2489 to report it and we will come to safely dispose of them.
Q. Will a CTS in my neighbourhood increase crime, or increase the visibility of social issues (such as homelessness, panhandling, and public drug use)?
A. There is no evidence to support that the presence of a CTS site increases rates of crime or the visibility of social issues in a neighbourhood. Anecdotally, the opposite has been true in communities where CTS sites have been established, as they give people a safe, clean, and comfortable space where they can have their needs met rather than needing to resort to riskier (and more public/visible) ways to meet their needs.
Furthermore, a requirement of the CTS application process is to submit a plan that shows how we will engage with community on an ongoing basis, to ensure a collective approach to addressing any issues that might arise in the community, so people who live, work, and play in the area will continue to be invited to provide feedback and have any concerns heard once the site is open.