Montreal's safe injections sites to supervise up to 300 injections a day, public health says

Montreal Public Health officials say that once Montreal’s safe-injection sites open, they will likely be providing anywhere between a total of 200 and 300 drug injections a day.

16 nurses ready for safe injections sites in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, downtown to open

Montreal's safe injection sites will open as soon as health Canada confirms they conform to all security measures. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Montreal Public Health officials say that once Montreal's supervised injection sites open, they will likely be overseeing anywhere between a total of 200 and 300 drug injections a day.

Montreal's three sites, plus one mobile truck, will be the first of their kind in Eastern Canada. There are currently two injection clinics in the country — both in Vancouver.

"We are the first in Quebec to do this, so it's very motivating. We are eager to start," said Caroline Boilard, one of the 16 nurses who will be working at the clinics.

Work at the sites is almost complete. Only the final approval from Health Canada is required before they can open their doors.

One of the sites will be located in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve area, in the city's east end, and will be operated by the community organization Dopamine.

Two others will be located in the downtown borough of Ville-Marie and operated by Cactus and Spectre de rue, groups that provide support to drug users.

A mobile supervised injection site, called Anonyme, would circulate in downtown Montreal.

Estimated number of injections per day

  • Cactus : between 140 and 215 injections
  • Spectre de rue : between 43 and 65 injections
  • Dopamine : between 12 and 18 injections
  • Anonyme: between 10 and 20 injections

Confidentiality assured

Nurses have been in training for the past three weeks. Some even went to Vancouver to learn from the city's opioid and fentanyl crisis.

Laurie Mercure, program manager for Montreal's sites, says nurses here will take a similar approach to their Vancouver counterparts.

"It's the approach we have to have with people — responding to their needs and what stage they are at that will be the key to success."

Sixteen nurses will be working at the sites, along with support from community workers.

The centres will be open 22 hours a day, 365 days a year. The mobile site will offer services during overnight hours.

People who wish to use the sites must register at the time of their first visit.

The drug users' information will remain confidential.

"At the first visit, they must sign up using their real names, but then we call them by a pseudonym," said Mercure. "And that personal information at the safe injection site will not be in any other medical file of the various institutions of the health care system. So people who use can do so in complete anonymity."

There are an estimated 4,000 injectable drug users in Montreal. Every year, about 70 of them die from an overdose.

With files from Radio-Canada's Jean-Philippe Robillard