Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario

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Nurses speak out for harm reduction

RNAO believes harm reduction – including supervised injection services (SIS) – is a critical tool nurses can use to help clients who use substances, minimize stigma, and build healthier communities.

The issue was thrust into the spotlight in 2011, when Vancouver’s SIS facility, Insite, was threatened with closure. RNAO, the Canadian Nurses Association, and the Association of Registered Nurses of British Columbia presented arguments before the Supreme Court of Canada to support the facility, and ultimately contributed to the decision that ruled the clinic can keep its doors open.

It was a victory RNAO is proud to be a part of, and it set a precedent for similar facilities across the country.

Ontario saw the fruits of this labour in July 2016, when Toronto city council approved a proposal to open three SIS sites throughout the city. The initiative was first approved by the city's board of health earlier in the year, and RNAO made multiple deputations in favour of the proposal. The association also supported Ottawa's board of health, as it approved SIS proposals in its own city in July 2016.

SIS aren't the only harm reduction tools nurses are using to help people who use substances.
RNAO released best practice guidelines (BPG) for supporting clients on methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) in 2009, and for engaging clients who use substances in 2015.