Presenting author: Kayla DeMong
Presenting author biography:
Kayla DeMong has been with Prairie Harm Reduction for 10 years and working front lines for 17. Her passion for harm reduction led her to stepping into the role of Executive Director in February 2022.
The Little SCS on the Prairies
In 2019 Prairie Harm Reduction (PHR) relocated to Saskatoon's Pleasant Hill neighbourhood to open Saskatchewan's first Safe Consumption Site. The plan was to open the doors of the newly renovated site spring of 2020. This opening was delayed until October of 2020 due to our Provincial Government denying funding to the program. Prairie Harm Reduction has now been denied 3 year in a row for funding for the Safe Consumption Site. This denial is despite Saskatchewan's ever-growing overdose crisis and nation leading HIV transmission rates. Despite this barrier we have been able to operated the site for the past 2 years thanks to the incredible support from the people of Saskatchewan, local businesses and the sales of a merchandise line. The second year we were denied funding which was amidst the pandemic the outpouring of support allowed us to increase our hours and capacity with approximately $240 000 CND of financial support coming in a 2-month period. We have continued to see this level of support ensuring that our doors can remain open and people can continue to access support. PHR’s SCS is directly connected to a drop-in centre which allows people accessing services to have a safe space to access and hang out in if they desire. The drop-in centre is home to a variety of supports for people to access including case managers, a nurse practitioner, a mental health nurse, Elder supports, drop-in counselling, pet therapy and housing workers. With close to 600 individual’s accessing Safe Consumption Services we continue to fill a vital gap in our community for people who use substances. Prairie Harm Reduction has become widely recognized for our resiliency in continue to persevere without funding for our SCS operations.