The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the overdose crisis in Toronto, with record increases in the number of overdose fatalities. Mandated physical distancing and service closures have limited the capacity of clinicians and service providers to provide care and support for people who inject drugs.

In response, the CDPE is leading a rapid assessment of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people who inject drugs in Toronto, including clinical and social outcomes, service utilization, and trends in the unregulated drug supply. Unhoused or underhoused subpopulations of people who inject drugs are a focus of this assessment, as they are disproportionately at risk of overdose, are often immunocompromised, and can face serious chronic conditions – putting them at higher risk for SARS-CoV-2 infections and severe COVID-19 disease.

Building upon the Integrated Supervised Injection Services (OiSIS) Evaluation led by the CDPE, this rapid assessment includes quantitative surveys and qualitative interviews with cohort participants about the effects of COVID-19 on their lives. In addition, the rapid assessment tracks participant clinical outcomes over time through an administrative health data linkage with ICES. We are also analyzing service utilization data from harm reduction services across the city, including Toronto’s drug checking service. Using mixed methods approaches, the rapid assessment will yield critical findings on the social and public health consequences of COVID-19 on people who inject drugs to inform improvements to policy and clinical practice.

Financial Supporters

Canadian Institutes of Health Research | Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse | St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation


British Columbia Centre on Substance Use| Centre for Addiction and Mental Health | Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse | Moss Park Consumption and Treatment Service | Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre | South Riverdale Community Health Centre | St. Michael’s Hospital | The Works at Toronto Public Health

Project Contact

Dr. Dan Werb