One year later: A look at Sudbury’s safe consumption site

Sep 26, 2023

A recent analysis published by and authored by Jenny Lamothe, examined the impact of Sudbury’s Supervised Consumption Site, The Spot, after it has been operating in the city for nearly one year.

The Spot offers the services of a supervised consumption site, including medical assistance, access to social services, and visits from a nurse, in addition to basic drug testing, which can produce results in approximately 10 minutes. Furthermore, the drug testing machine, and can detect substances including fentanyl, carfentanil, benzodiazepines, xylazine, cocaine, methamphetamines, and MDMA in order to prevent toxic poisoning.

“Is this machine, is this place going to end the drug poisoning crisis? Absolutely not. We need a multifaceted approach, a multipronged approach,” said said The Spot’s manager, Amber Fritz. “These are just tools that we can use at the moment to try and give people a little bit of autonomy, so they have a better understanding of what they’re putting into their body, what they’re consuming, and what they could unknowingly consume.”

However, The Spot is still waiting for funding from the provincial government since it began operations. The site is currently operating on $1.094 million provided by the City of Greater Sudbury, as well as $100,000 from Vale and $30,000 from Wheaton. Due to the lack of funding, the site can only run six hours per day, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. 

“This is a life-saving service,” said Fritz. “It’s not just about people coming in here and using drugs, it’s about connections, building trust, building relationships coming in here and being treated with dignity.” 

 While yearly data from The Spot has not yet been released, according to Fritz, in July, there were 153 visits, and 205 consumptions at the site; while in August, there have been 88 visits and 100 consumptions (as of Aug. 11). 

According to the latest data released by the coroner’s office, the number of opioid-related deaths in Ontario continues to trend above pre-pandemic levels, with early 2023 figures showing that the number of fatal overdoses is not decreasing. The number of opioid deaths in Ontario reached a five-year high in 2021, with over 2,800 opioid-related deaths reported; that number dropped slightly in 2022, to around 2,500.

In Sudbury, between 2018 and 2022, there was an increase from 26 to 116 opioid-related deaths, which, according to Ontario’s Chief Coroner, Dr. Dirk Huyer, represents a 346% increase. In addition, demographics show that opioid deaths are highest amongst individuals aged 30 to 49 years.