Understanding pathways to enhance access to youth substance use services, interventions, and overdose prevention resources in Victoria, BC

In 2021, the BC experienced 196 fatal/non-fatal reported overdoses in youth under the age of 19, and 18 lost their lives. Despite the increasing number of youth with substance use disorders in BC, current data shows that voluntary, community-based, and youth-friendly support services are lacking. The Understanding Pathways project aims to address this by learning from youth who have had their lives impacted by substance use, what their diverse hopes, wishes and ideas are for accessible, non-judgmental, safe, and culturally-centered substance use services. The project will engage with youth as co-researchers and collaborate with frontline, community-based, policy, and academic researchers and research users in the field of youth substance use. We will convene with two youth advisory councils to plan and deliver a workshop where we will develop a journey map illustrating the continuum of substance use services required to meet the diverse needs of youth. We will compliment this with a scoping review of youth substance use interventions and promising practices. The journey map and scoping findings will be linked in a research brief to inform future research and knowledge translation activities.

Team members: Andrea Mellor (University of Victoria – Canadian Institutes for Substance Use Research); Denise Cloutier (University of Victoria – Institute on Aging and Lifelong Health); Jenna Bailey (Surrounded by Cedar Child and Family Services); Jennifer Chuckry (Surrounded by Cedar Child and Family Services); Glenys Webster (BC Representative for Children and Youth); Barbara Thompson (Victoria Youth Clinic Society); Zahra Premji (University of Victoria).

Developing a roadmap for nurse-assisted injection in BC’s supervised consumption services

Supervised consumption services are an essential part of health care and community services for people who use substances in British Columbia. These services are particularly important for people who inject substances because they offer a safer place to inject and an opportunity to access harm reduction supplies, connect with resources, and receive care if needed. Using in a supervised consumption services can make the difference between life and death in the context of the overdose crisis because staff can quickly detect an overdose, administer naloxone, and call emergency services. Therefore, it is essential to remove any barrier that may prevent people who inject substance from accessing such services. One barrier that is consistently reported is the lack of assistance for people who need help injecting. Nurses are not currently allowed to provide any assistance. This project is designed to explore this issue and find ways to improve access to supervised consumption services for people who need help injecting.

Team members: Tim Gauthier (Nurse Practitioner); Kirstin McLaughlin (University of Victoria); Sandra Ka Hun Chu (HIV Legal Network); Virginie Dalpé (Université de Montréal)


The safer washroom campaign: Disseminating best practices in the public and private sectors

For people who use substances who cannot or do not have access to a supervised consumption site, washrooms can provide a private space that feels safe. However, when people use in washrooms, they can face serious risks including the risks of overdosing alone and potentially not receiving life-saving help in time. There are ways of making washrooms safer, but it can be difficult to know how. Best practices have been developed in the past few years to provide guidance to community-based organizations, businesses, health care institution, and other settings where washrooms are publicly accessible. Despite best efforts to make these best practices known, gaps remain. This project is designed to make share this information more broadly and improve washroom safety across the province. To make this happen, we plan on conducting consultation with various groups and developing a safer washroom campaign.

Team members: Shannon Riley (Vancouver Coastal Health); Kali Sedgemore (Vancouver Coastal Health); Trevor Goodyear (University of British Columbia)


Knowledge mobilization for reducing stigma and creating culturally safe primary care


  • Bernadette Pauly
    University of Victoria
  • Bill Bullock
    Victoria Division of Family Practice
  • Karen Urbanoski
    CISUR / UVic


  • TBC

People who use substances (PWUS) face stigma and discrimination when accessing primary care. Cultural safety has been proposed to reduce provider and system-based stigma. Recently, this team completed a CIHR Strategy for Patient Oriented Research grant, which investigated the meaning of culturally safe primary care for PWUS, with a focus on those also experiencing structural disadvantages (e.g. poverty, racialization). This team comprises of PWUS (community researchers), academic researchers and knowledge users from the Victoria Division of Family Practice and Island Health. Findings included a concept map of cultural safety with eight core areas for reducing substance use related stigma in primary care.

The knowledge translation (KT) objectives are to:

  1. Raise awareness of the stigma experienced by PWUS in primary care.
  2. Share understandings of culturally safe primary care for this population.
  3. Support PWUS to advocate for their own primary care.
  4. Encourage PWUS, physicians and health planners to collaborate on strategies to improve cultural safety.
  5. Facilitate the participation of PWUS, physicians and health planners in developing and implementing policies and practices to improve cultural safety in primary care.

Besides local and provincial presentations with knowledge users, a postcard summarizing the findings was produced and distributed it to the community to support PWUS in advocating for their own primary care. We will complete additional plain-language KT materials for this population.

With this Reach award, the team will extend their reach to physicians, other healthcare providers, medical students, and senior level policy makers through two additional activities.

A video will be created to communicate the findings from the perspective of community researchers; it will be available on YouTube and actively promoted for use by senior level health executives and in healthcare curricula in BC post-secondary institutions.

An interactive workshop for primary care providers will be developed and delivered to address barriers and have facilitators implement culturally safe care. This workshop will be developed by the existing team and will be led by PWUS in collaboration with other team members. The workshop will be delivered through newly developed interdisciplinary primary care networks in Nanaimo, Campbell River and Port McNeil with a focus on identifying local practice changes. Besides enhancing the reach of findings from this completed project, the community researchers and graduate trainee will build their personal and organizational capacity for KT.