Casey House’s lead founder and nationally acclaimed journalist June Callwood would be 100 years old this Sunday, June 2. In honour of the centenary of her birth we remember June’s words, “We are all capable of a bit more humanity than we can imagine.” As a social justice activist, she was an inspiration for our approach and philosophy of care. In reference to Casey House, June once said, “We are taking care of people who need it in ways they can accept. Casey House was named in honour of June’s son, who was killed by a drunk driver at the age of 20. The loss of such a young and vibrant adult felt similar to the loss of so many young men from AIDS.

Want to learn more about June Callwood? Read more about June on the Our Origins page of Casey House’s website, which includes her biography. You can also check out With Dignity: The Story of Casey House, a podcast created by Soulpepper Theatre, wherever you listen to your podcasts. Her published works, including Twelve Weeks in Spring (1986) and Jim: A Life with AIDS (1988), can be found at your local TPL branch. And, if you’re ever in the area, you can stop by June Callwood Park here in Toronto at 636 Fleet St.

Happy Birthday, June Callwood!

Casey House is pleased that Bill C-22 – Canada Disability Benefit Act has received Royal Assent and is now law. This new federal law establishes the Canada Disability Benefit (CDB), to reduce poverty and support the financial security of working-age persons with disabilitiesa population “more likely to live in poverty than working-age persons without disabilities, because of economic and social exclusion” and that requires targeted benefits. 

Casey House serves clients with disabilities, particularly those with illnesses or conditions that are “episodic” – meaning, they vary in severity and duration and can include periods of wellness. Most clients are HIV+ and contend with multiple chronic conditions – many of which are exacerbated by the drug poisoning crisis, housing crisis, and rising cost of living. Our hospital is committed to understanding our clients’ health concerns in the broader context of their lives – including their income and financial situation, which is an area of high need. 

Throughout the legislative process, Casey House appreciated the opportunity to comment on Bill C-22. As outlined in our most recent submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology (SOCI), we highlighted the importance of ensuring that the CDB is designed and delivered to: 

  • Support people with episodic disabilities living in poverty: examples of episodic disabilities include chronic conditions and diseases such as HIV, mental illness, and substance use disorder. People with episodic disabilities face unique barriers to financial security and require supports that enable them to meet their basic needs. 
  • Reach people with disabilities living in poverty who face barriers to filing income tax returns: the CDB will be based on annual income tax returns, however for people living in deep poverty, such as those without housing, it can be difficult to file their taxes regularly. If barriers to tax filing are not addressed, we risk the CDB not reaching those who need it most. 
  • Ensure that people with disabilities living in poverty continue to have uninterrupted access to health benefits through provincial disability support programs: most Casey House clients receive income support from the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), which also provides coverage for life-saving medications. Implementing the CDB will require coordination between different levels of government to ensure people have continued, uninterrupted access to provincial health benefits to meet their health care needs. 

As the federal government now proceeds to developing the regulations to guide the design and delivery of this new benefit, Casey House looks forward to continuing to advocate for the CDB to effectively reach all workingage persons with disabilities living in poverty, and critically, for the CDB to be adequately funded to improve the financial security of people with disabilities living in poverty. 

Casey House recognizes and acknowledges that systemic inequities deeply affect our clients, and believes it is our responsibility to advocate for compassionate and socially-just health care. Our advocacy seeks to address the structural barriers that prevent optimal health, and improve the well-being of all people living with or at risk of HIV. To learn more, visit Advocacy. 

As a specialty hospital in Toronto providing care for people living with and at risk of HIV, Casey House serves people who face multiple barriers to having their basic needs met. We acknowledge that systemic inequities have a profound effect on people’s lives, and believe that everyone deserves judgment-free care – both within and beyond our hospital. With the continuing drug poisoning crisis, housing crisis, and rising cost of living, the need to address the social factors that determine health and well-being is beyond urgent; and tackling these challenges requires thoughtful, transparent, accountable, and compassionate leadership that views people for their humanity amidst the challenges they face.

With less than a month until the mayoral by-election, we are sharing three principles that the next Mayor of Toronto must champion to improve health care and outcomes for people in high need:

1. Housing is a human right, and stable housing and safe living conditions are essential to health and well-being

2. Substance use is a health issue, not a criminal justice issue, and people who use drugs should not be criminalized

3. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity, compassion, and respect amidst the challenges they face, when interacting with local government

1. Housing is a human right, and stable housing and safe living conditions are essential to health and well-being

It is well known that homelessness and precarious housing are at crisis points in Toronto; in fact, Toronto City Council recently declared homelessness an emergency. In addition to a lack of affordable housing options for all income levels, there is a constant lack of emergency shelter spaces to accommodate the volume of people experiencing homelessness – a population in which Black, Indigenous, and other racialized groups continue to be over-represented. Given this reality, many people are sleeping outdoors, including in homeless encampments. The absence of a safe, stable place to sleep and access to the necessities of life makes it difficult to attain stability and adhere to a daily routine, which negatively impacts people’s physical and mental health, particularly during periods of inclement weather. As one Casey House nurse expressed, “For people without housing, managing their health requires so many things they just don’t have access to.”

The city’s housing charter and action plan recognize that housing is essential to the inherent dignity and well-being of the person, however this human right to housing is far from realized. While progress has been made, and while other orders of government have a role to play, there is much more work to do. The next Mayor of Toronto must exercise their power and responsibility to uphold and fulfill the human right to housing for all Torontonians. This entails allocating the maximum available resources, and using all appropriate means, to provide equitable, low-barrier access to adequate housing; and heeding the recommendations of Toronto’s Ombudsman to ensure a fair, consistent, transparent, and accountable response to homeless encampments.

2. Substance use is a health issue, not a criminal justice issue, and people who use drugs should not be criminalized

Despite substance use being a health issue it is treated as a criminal justice issue in Canada, which creates barriers to health services, particularly for people living in deep poverty. It leads health care providers to require that people stop using drugs in order to receive care; deters people from accessing services and supports which would build their resilience and improve their well-being; and drives the inevitable market of illegal drugs which have become increasingly toxic. Moreover, the criminalization of drugs is rooted in colonialism and racism, not in science or public health, and disproportionately impacts Black and Indigenous communities.

In Toronto, promising work is underway to address this systemic barrier: Toronto Public Health’s request to Health Canada to decriminalize illicit drug possession is a decisive policy action. Allowing the possession of drugs for personal use is imperative for decreasing stigma, creating pathways to health care, and improving health outcomes. Equally critical is how this policy change is implemented: it must be supported by a wide range of health and social services that respond to the diverse needs of people who use drugs, including harm reduction – a people-centred and evidence-based approach that aims to reduce the risks of substance use without judgment or preconditions of support. The next Mayor of Toronto must continue to lead and support the critical work underway to help protect people from a toxic drug supply; reduce the harms of substance use, including stigma and discrimination; and respect the health, dignity and human rights of people who use drugs.

3. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity, compassion, and respect amidst the challenges they face, when interacting with local government

The city’s community safety and well-being plan strives for Toronto to “Become a Trauma-Informed and Responsive City”, one that is “grounded and directed by a thorough understanding of the complete impacts of trauma, adversity, racism and violence on people, families and neighbourhoods.”

A trauma-informed approach accepts and understands the impact of trauma on someone’s life; provides an opportunity for people to express their needs and experiences without feeling judged; and cultivates safety in every interaction to build trusting relationships. In our city, this means providing supports and infrastructure that are accessible and responsive to people’s circumstances and reflect the lived experiences of people from all walks of life, so that everyone feels safe, supported, and respected. The next Mayor of Toronto must champion Toronto’s commitment to becoming a trauma-informed and responsive city by acknowledging the profound effects of systemic inequities on people’s lives; ensuring that city services are delivered to help people to achieve stability in their lives and address the barriers they face; and espouse the fundamental notion that everyone deserves judgment-free care and support.

Leading with unequivocal compassion

All levels of government have a vital role to play in addressing the social factors that determine health and well-being, and in improving health care and outcomes for people in high need. As Toronto embarks on a new chapter of municipal political leadership, thoughtfulness, transparency, accountability, and compassion are imperative to promoting the health, dignity, and human rights of all Torontonians.


Casey House recognizes and acknowledges that systemic inequities deeply affect our clients, and believes it is our responsibility to advocate for compassionate and socially-just health care. Our advocacy seeks to address the structural barriers that prevent optimal health, and improve the well-being of all people living with or at risk of HIV. To learn more, visit
Advocacy.

 

Black History Month is an opportunity to honour Black Canadians and the contributions they make to this country, which span hundreds of years, back to the early 1600s. As a hospital with HIV expertise, it is also an opportunity to call attention to the reality that Black communities are over-represented in rates of HIV, and to consider this population’s distinct health care needs. Statistics show that African, Caribbean and Black (ACB) communities are disproportionately affected by the virus: although these communties made up less than 5% of Ontario’s population in 2015, they accounted for 25% of all new HIV diagnoses.

Barriers to accessing education and employment opportunities, and systemic racism, contribute to the ACB population in Ontario being at higher risk of acquiring HIV, and all too frequently stigma prevents people from accessing prevention, testing and treatment.

A recent study of HIV prevalence and risk factors among ACB people in Ontario¹ suggests that addressing social determinants of health, in particular income and employment related factors, might help lower their risk of acquiring HIV. As a hospital that embraces a holistic approach to health care, we are committed to considering these social factors that determine health and well-being when planning an individual’s care and to providing opportunities to address those factors through our services and programming. We also help reduce barriers to accessing health care by meeting clients where they are on their individual journeys of health and wellness, and taking time to partner with them to reach their health goals.

Another part of our hospital’s approach is to provide culturally-sensitive care without judgement. Creating an inclusive environment takes time, and trust, and in addition to refining our own service offerings, we build partnerships in the community to learn, share knowledge and make connections.

While Casey House’s philosophy and model of care helps support this population, having a team of staff, peers and volunteers that is reflective of the people we serve is also important; providers with lived experience is integral to delivering equitable health care. Casey House is committed to building such a team; one that reflects the diversity of the community in which we live and serve, and encourages learners, job seekers, and those wishing to volunteer, to explore opportunities to join our team.

In addition to highlighting the health needs of the ACB population during Black History Month, we are committed to celebrating Black achievement by continuing to build internal knowledge and by hosting month-specific programming. At the same time, we are also taking the opportunity to look at how Casey House as an organization, and how each team member, is contributing to anti-Black racism and re-committing ourselves to dismantling the structures and behaviours that perpetuate racism. This is critical to the health of our team, our organization, and the clients we serve.

  1. A cross-sectional investigation of HIV prevalence and risk factors among African, Caribbean and Black people in Ontario: The A/C Study, October 2022. Lawrence Mbuagbaw, Winston Husbands, Shamara Baidoobonso, Daeria Lawson, Muna Aden, Josephine Etowa, LaRon Nelson, Wangari Tharao

As a specialty hospital in Toronto that provides care for people who face multiple barriers to having their basic needs met, Casey House was pleased to share our recommendations for the 2023 Ontario Budget, as part of the public consultation process.

Casey House is committed to understanding our clients’ health concerns in the broader context of their lives. With the continuing drug poisoning crisis, housing crisis, and rising cost of living, the need to address the social factors that determine health and well-being is beyond urgent.

Casey House’s recommendations at a glance

While progress has been made in communities across the province, there is much more work to do – particularly to support people in high need for housing, mental health, and substance use supports. As a hospital, Casey House encourages the Ontario government to increase and improve access to:

  • Supportive housing for people coping with mental health and substance use challenges
  • Mental health and addictions care that doesn’t require abstinence from substance use
  • Wide-ranging harm reduction services and supports as part of overall health care

Casey House's recommendations

Read our full pre-budget submission for the 2023 Ontario Budget

The provincial government will table its 2023 Budget this spring.

Casey House recognizes and acknowledges that systemic inequities deeply affect our clients, and believes it is our responsibility to advocate for compassionate and socially-just health care. Our advocacy seeks to address the structural barriers that prevent optimal health, and improve the well-being of all people living with or at risk of HIV. To learn more, visit Advocacy.

As a specialty hospital in Toronto that provides care for people who face multiple barriers to having their basic needs met, Casey House was pleased to comment on the City of Toronto’s 2023 Budget, as part of the public consultation process.

Casey House is committed to understanding our clients’ health concerns in the broader context of their lives – including their housing and income situations, which continue to be areas of high need. With the continuing drug poisoning crisis, housing crisis, and rising cost of living, the need to address the social factors that determine health and well-being is beyond urgent.

Casey House’s recommendations at a glance

While progress has been made to improve the health and well-being of people in Toronto, there is much more work to do – particularly to support the estimated 18,000 people experiencing homelessness in our city, while they continue to wait for more safe, affordable, and supportive housing. As a hospital, Casey House encourages the City of Toronto to increase and improve access to:

  • Emergency shelter spaces with citywide locations that enable people to remain geographically close to their support systems and networks.
  • Low-barrier 24-hour drop-in spaces, respite sites, warming centres during winter months, and fixed-site cooling centres during summer months.
  • Storage services for personal belongings, such as medications and critical documentation.
  • Income tax clinics and identification clinics to enable more people to apply for long-term housing and income support programs.

The Budget Committee wraps up its review process January 24, Mayor John Tory releases proposed budget by February 1, City Council votes on the budget February 14.

Casey House's recommendations

Read our full letter to the City of Toronto’s 2023 Budget Committee

Toronto residents and businesses are encouraged to participate in the process, and can provide written comments and feedback to the Budget Committee by email: buc@toronto.ca. Learn more at the City of Toronto’s website.

Casey House recognizes and acknowledges that systemic inequities deeply affect our clients, and believes it is our responsibility to advocate for compassionate and socially-just health care. Our advocacy seeks to address the structural barriers that prevent optimal health, and improve the well-being of all people living with or at risk of HIV. To learn more, visit Advocacy.

As a specialty hospital that provides care for people living with and at risk of HIV, Casey House was pleased to comment on federal Bill C-22 – Canada Disability Benefit Act, which seeks to establish the Canada Disability Benefit (CDB) to reduce poverty and support the financial security of working-age persons with disabilities.

Casey House serves clients with disabilities, particularly those with illnesses or conditions that are “episodic” – meaning, they vary in severity and duration and can include periods of wellness. Most clients are HIV+ and contend with multiple chronic conditions – many of which are exacerbated by the overdose crisis, housing crisis, and rising cost of living. Our hospital is committed to understanding our clients’ health concerns in the broader context of their lives – including their income and financial situation, which is an area of high need.

Casey House’s brief at a glance

With the rising cost of living and risk of a recession, the need for the CDB is urgent. Casey House calls for the swift passage of Bill C-22 so that this disability benefit can be designed and delivered as quickly as possible to:

1. Support people with episodic disabilities living in poverty: examples of episodic disabilities include chronic conditions and diseases such as HIV, mental illness, and substance use disorder. People with episodic disabilities face unique barriers to financial security and require supports that enable them to meet their basic needs.

2. Reach people with disabilities living in poverty who face barriers to filing income tax returns: the CDB would be based on annual income tax returns, however for people living in deep poverty, such as those without housing, it can be difficult to file their taxes regularly. If barriers to tax filing are not addressed, we risk the CDB not reaching those who need it most.

3. Ensure that people with disabilities living in poverty continue to have uninterrupted access to health benefits through provincial disability support programs: most Casey House clients receive income support from the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), which also provides coverage for life-saving medications. Implementing the CDB will require coordination between different levels of government to ensure people have continued, uninterrupted access to provincial health benefits to meet their health care needs.

This bill is currently being studied by a Parliamentary Committee in the House of Commons, and must pass both the House and Senate in order to become law. The faster Bill C-22 is passed, the faster the Canada Disability Benefit can be designed and delivered to reach all working-age people with disabilities living in poverty, to improve their financial security and health and wellbeing.

Casey House's brief on Bill C-22

Read our full submission to the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA)

You can learn more about Bill C-22 and follow its progress at the Parliament of Canada website.

Casey House recognizes and acknowledges that systemic inequities deeply affect our clients, and believes it is our responsibility to advocate for compassionate and socially-just health care. Our advocacy seeks to address the structural barriers that prevent optimal health, and improve the well-being of all people living with or at risk of HIV. To learn more, visit Advocacy.

 

TORONTO, ON (November 16, 2022) – Today, Casey House clients are able to smoke substances on-site as part of its hospital-based supervised consumption services (SCS). This development makes Casey House the first site in the province to offer indoor supervised inhalation.

Adding this form of consumption, in addition to injection, snorting or eating, as an option for clients makes safer drug use and overdose prevention more accessible. Smoking is an increasingly common method of drug consumption and will make Casey House’s SCS accessible for even more people. Having a safe indoor space allows people to safely use substances with privacy and dignity.

Additionally, research from the Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario shows that there has been a significant shift towards inhalation-related deaths during the pandemic. In 2020 in Ontario, just over one-third of deaths were inhalation-related – an 11% increase from pre-pandemic times. The report points to the need for more harm reduction services tailored specifically to this mode of drug use, including supervised inhalation services.

Supervised inhalation is also highly recommended by community stakeholders. Recently, inhalation was endorsed in the toolkit Twelve characteristics of client-centred supervised consumption services (SCS), developed by the Engage with Harm Reduction study that featured input from Casey House staff, peers and community members.

Casey House’s SCS are open to registered clients 24 hours a day on the inpatient unit and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. for outpatients, and are integrated into its regular health services. Clients use their own drugs while being monitored by trained staff who can provide emergency medical care in case of overdose. Drug testing and supervision at an SCS substantially reduce the risk of overdose and death, and increase access to sterile equipment, education on safer use, and health and social services. Supervised inhalation is for unregulated substances only; neither tobacco nor cannabis can be smoked in the SCS.

Casey House CEO Joanne Simons is proud to be expanding the supervised consumption services for the hospital’s clients, and says, “We were able to do this in a cost-effective manner, and believe this is a critical health care investment for organizations and governments to improve health care outcomes for people who use drugs.”

Simons goes on to say how much the hospital acknowledges and is grateful for the ground-breaking work of the harm reduction community across the country, such as sites like Prairie Harm Reduction in Saskatchewan and Blood Ties in Yukon. She looks forward to other organizations being able to also offer this much-needed service.

 

-30-

Casey House is unlike any other hospital. We are a specialty hospital in Toronto providing ground-breaking care to people living with and at risk of HIV. Together with our clients, staff, peers and volunteers, we strive to create an inclusive environment where everyone feels safe. We offer a growing mix of inpatient, outpatient and community-based services that meet clients where they are in their individual journeys of health and wellness. Building on a legacy of advocacy and social justice, we actively dismantle barriers to care and safe living. We provide a community and sense of belonging that connects people to care. The humanity of each client is at the heart of everything we do.

 

To book an interview with Casey House chief executive officer Joanne Simons, or for more information, contact:

Cole Douglas
Narrative on behalf of Casey House
Cole.douglas@narrative.ca
416.460.5480

Learn more:
See where and how Casey House offers its hospital-based SCS in a short video here.
Casey House becomes first Ontario hospital to provide safe, supervised space for substance use, April 2022
Compassionate Care: Increasing access to supervised consumption services, April 2022

This summer, Casey House was pleased to contribute our insights on the current state of the City of Toronto’s drug policy and programming, including our clients’ perspectives on decriminalizing personal drug possession. In view of the upcoming municipal election, we are highlighting some of the most pressing issues our clients face, and key actions the city must prioritize to improve the health and well-being of Torontonians in high socio-economic need.

For many people, substance use is a way to cope with intersecting challenges such as trauma, poverty, homelessness and mental health concerns, which can create multiple barriers to having one’s basic needs met. At Casey House, our clients face many of these hurdles, which have an impact on their health and well-being. Our hospital is committed to understanding our clients’ health concerns in the broader context of their lives, and to actively dismantling barriers to care and safe living. All levels of government have a vital role to play in addressing the social factors that determine health and well-being, and in improving health care and outcomes for people in high need. While considerable progress has been made in recent years, there is much more work to do.

In Toronto, three pressing issues that any municipal policy or program must consider and address are:

1. Deep poverty: inadequate income and chronic homelessness
2. Toxic supply of unregulated drugs and growing risk of drug-related harms
3. Criminalization of drugs and the people who use them

1. Deep poverty: inadequate income and chronic homelessness

For many of our clients, an extremely low income creates barriers to safe and healthy living. For those who qualify for income support programs, the amount of money a single person receives is not nearly enough to cover basic needs and shelter. For instance, many clients receive support from the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) or Ontario Works (OW) – the maximum monthly rates for which are $1,228 and $733 respectively. Even in stronger economic times, these rates are far below the poverty line, let alone during this period of high inflation, when even higher income earners struggle to make ends meet.

Unsurprisingly, a related challenge is access to safe, affordable, and supportive housing – the demand for which far exceeds supply. The constant lack of emergency shelter spaces affects the ability of hospitals like Casey House to safely discharge unhoused patients so they can manage their health beyond their stay. As one long-time Casey House nurse expressed, “We call Central Intake [for emergency shelter space], and no beds are available…I’ve never seen it worse.” The situation is further aggravated by obstacles to obtaining required documentation to apply for potential housing. Our team of social workers see these roadblocks far too often: “getting ID is a nightmare for people” because of the limited services available, and “it can be difficult for people without housing to get their taxes done regularly”.

Even when people are housed and have access to programs like ODSP, it is still not enough to pay for food, transportation, and other basic needs.

Actions for the City of Toronto:

  1. Champion income support programs and policies at all levels of government that respond to the cost of living (higher benefit rates), and provide people with the income they need when they need it (such as bi-monthly payments)
  2. Prioritize and/or leverage city resources to increase and improve:
      • Immediate access to safe, high quality emergency shelter spaces that don’t require abstinence from substance use, and storage services for personal belongings
      • Access to transitional and supportive housing for people struggling with substance use and mental health challenges
      • Access to affordable housing, such as rent-geared-to-income (RGI) housing, that integrates vital harm reduction strategies and supports
      • Access to tax clinics and identification clinics with citywide locations and hours of operation that respond to the practical reality of people’s lives

2. Toxic supply of unregulated drugs and growing risk of drug-related harms

Since 2016 there have been more than 30,000 opioid toxicity deaths in Canada, an accelerating crisis that is claiming lives in communities across the country. In 2021 , Toronto Public Health reported 574 opioid-related deaths. As recent research from the Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario shows, there has been an increase in stimulants contributing to opioid-related deaths, the circumstances surrounding drug-related harms have been changing significantly, and there is an urgent need for harm reduction services that respond to the diverse needs of people who use drugs.

In Toronto, many harm reduction services are available, but limited. Supervised consumption services (SCS) are contained to the downtown core; don’t always accommodate the range of drugs used and varying effects they have on the mind and body; and often don’t include vital drug checking services, which help people make more informed decisions about their drug use. The few options for safer supply (prescribed alternatives to the illicit drug market) have long waitlists and are limited to opioids.

In addition, many people providing support do not have lived experience of drug use, which can limit the full potential of these services. As one Casey House client expressed, “you want someone who ‘speaks your language’” when accessing care.

Actions for the City of Toronto:

  • Increase and improve low-barrier access to:
      • Safer supply programs, including for drugs beyond opioids
      • Safe spaces for substance use beyond the downtown core, that tailor services to different types of drugs (stimulants and opioids) and different modes of drug use (injection and inhalation)
      • Drug checking services, both within and beyond supervised consumption services, on a permanent basis
      • Mental health and substance use treatment services that don’t require abstinence from drug use
  • Engage more people with lived experience of substance use to provide support for, and build trust with, people who use drugs, and update best practices for people working in these peer support roles

3. Criminalization of drugs and the people who use them

While substance use is a health issue, it is treated as a criminal justice issue in Canada which creates barriers to health services, particularly for people living in deep poverty. It leads health care providers to require that people stop using drugs in order to receive care; deters people from accessing services and supports which would build their resilience and improve their well-being; and drives the inevitable market of illegal drugs which have become increasingly toxic. Moreover, federal drug policy is rooted in colonialism and racism, not in science or public health, and disproportionately impacts Black and Indigenous communities.

In Toronto, promising work is underway to address this systemic barrier: Toronto Public Health’s request to Health Canada to decriminalize illicit drug possession is a decisive policy action. Allowing the possession of drugs for personal use is imperative for decreasing stigma, creating pathways to health care, and improving health outcomes for people who use drugs. Equally critical is how policy change is implemented: people who use substances need to feel safe, supported, and respected, and all front-line service providers and first responders must be well-equipped to operate in a new environment that allows for personal drug possession.

Actions for the City of Toronto:

  • Equip service providers and first responders with the training and education to embrace a trauma-informed approach that:
      • Accepts and understands the impact of trauma on one’s health and well-being
      • Provides an opportunity for people to express their needs and experiences
      • Cultivates safety in every interaction to build trusting relationships with the community
  • Equip service providers and first responders with the training and education to gain a strong understanding of:
      • The realities of drug use (i.e. types of substances, quantities for personal use, recognize paraphernalia)
      • The impact that different drugs can have on different people (i.e. tolerance levels, reactions to various substances)
      • Optimal supports and services for immediate, crisis intervention
      • The difference between ‘sharing drugs’ for personal use and ‘trafficking’, to ensure that people who use substances are not targeted
  • In the Toronto Drug Strategy, re-define the pillar of “enforcement” to focus on: protecting people from a toxic drug supply; reducing the harms of substance use, including stigma and discrimination; community-led solutions to respond to mental health crises and wellness checks; and respecting the health, dignity and human rights of people who use drugs

Casey House recognizes and acknowledges that systemic inequities deeply affect our clients, and believes it is our responsibility to advocate for compassionate and socially-just health care. Our advocacy seeks to address the structural barriers that prevent optimal health, and improve the well-being of all people living with or at risk of HIV. To learn more, visit Advocacy.