PDS In Action

PDS Housing Report

The Peterborough Drug Strategy (PDS) conducted a housing research project between September 2022 and April 2023. PDS is a community-based organization focused on reducing the harms of substance use and it is well known that the drug poisoning epidemic intersects with the housing and homelessness crisis, and the mental health crisis – you cannot really talk about one without the other.

The goal of this report was to:

(1) Clarify the role of the different levels of government in the housing and homelessness crisis;
(2) Identify creativity and innovation in the housing and homelessness response in four mid-sized cities in Ontario (Wellington County, The Region of Waterloo, The City of Greater Sudbury, and The City of Kingston).

This report provides an accountability framework for federal, provincial, and municipal governments, and presents four case studies on how communities are addressing the issue in productive ways.

You can read the report here:

From Onus to Action in the Housing and Homelessness Crisis: Exploring Government Responsibilities and Innovative Approaches by Mid-Sized Ontario Cities

For more information please email .

A Question of Care

A Question of Care (QoC) is a Peterborough-based capacity-building initiative focused on building and strengthening skills, knowledge, and awareness to address the intersections between substance use, stigma, mental illness, and trauma. QoC creates spaces for mutual learning, respectful dialogue, and fostering collaboration between community members, as well as multi-sectoral collaboration and interdisciplinary practice between professionals. Our goal is to see helping professionals and community members feel better equipped in person-centred relationships, and for people living with complexity to see a reduction in the stigma they encounter in their communities.

Workshops are offered at minimal cost on foundational topics such as:

  • Addiction and Substance Use: Foundations and Approaches
  • First Stage Trauma Treatment
  • Harm Reduction in Practice
  • Motivational Interviewing
  • Strategies for Supporting a Loved One Who Drinks
  • Youth, Drugs, and the Law
  • And many more!

Visit the QoC website for more information or to register for a workshop: www.questionofcare.com

Mobile Support Overdose Resource Team (MSORT)

The Mobile Support Overdose Resource Team (MSORT) is collaboration between FourCAST, PARN, Peterborough County and City Paramedics, the Peterborough Police Service, and Peterborough Drug Strategy. As an interdisciplinary frontline team, this direct service supports people who are experiencing, and at risk of experiencing, opioid overdoses. A priority within this group are people who choose not to go to hospital for follow-up after experiencing an overdose, often involving outreach to individuals who are unhoused or sleeping outside. Services include paramedic health assessment and connection to supports; distribution of harm reduction supplies including safe drug use equipment, wound care kits and Naloxone; advocacy and referrals around shelter, housing and other community supports; outreach to unhoused individuals.

For more information or to make a referral (self-referrals are welcome) to this program, visit our MSORT page

Housing Unit Takeovers (HUTs)

The Peterborough Drug Strategy (PDS) is providing project coordination to implement and oversee a Housing Unit Takeover (HUTs) project running from September 2020 to March 31, 2023. The need for this project was determined at a PDS meeting in early 2020 and funds were secured through a Proceeds of Crime grant through PDS Pillar partner Peterborough Police from the Ministry of the Solicitor General. 

Project deliverables include:

  • Regional assessment/environmental scan
  • Training and Education to service providers including police and landlords and to tenants and general public
  • Adapt, adopt and create various prevention tools/strategies
  • Adapt, adopt and create a continuum of intervention tools/strategies
  • Engage more partners across multiple sectors
  • Enhance holistic trauma informed responses that focus on tenant wellbeing and safe housing and communities

For more information about the local efforts to address HUTs, please contact Peter Williams, Project Lead, Peterborough Drug Strategy at 

Past Project: Peterborough Community Cannabis Project

Similar to our opioid project in 2017-18, beginning in 2018 until March 2020 we worked to support helping professionals and members of the public in Peterborough City and County with evidence-based information and supports as we transitioned to legal cannabis for non-medical use. One of the resources developed through this project is the Cannabis Hub.

Past Project: PDS Panel

The PDS Panel was an opportunity for people with lived experience related to substance use to use their experiences to help inform local programs, policies and initiatives. It was also an opportunity for organizations to get feedback on their activities and adapt them to better meet the needs of people with lived experience of substance use.

Over the course of a one-year pilot project (2017-18), we established the panel, which offered consulting services to PDS member organizations. We are currently exploring additional funding opportunities to support a second phase of this project, with a goal of expanding access to the panel’s services beyond PDS partners to any interested organization in the community.

This project was generously funded by:

Past Project: Peterborough Regional Overdose Preparedness Project

The Peterborough Police Service with PDS and other supporting organizations received funding in July 2017 from Proceeds of Crime Front-Line Policing program to support the harm reduction work already happening in our community.

From September 2017 to March 2018, PDS undertook a number of project components to meet identified harm reduction needs in our community. These activities included:

  • Supporting local pharmacists to distribute naloxone in their pharmacies.
  • A local training schedule of opioid training for employees at risk of needing to respond to an onsite overdose at work.
    • Training for service providers and specialized training for establishments that serve alcohol.
    • The training model created through this grant will continue to offer training beyond the end of the funding timeframe.
  • Development of informational resources that respond to community requests, including:
    • Information Sheets.
    • A policy document to help agencies develop a first-aid response policy to opioid overdoses.
  • Access to local online information about opioids.

Click here to view our PROP Impact Report

Past Project: Emergency Department Naloxone Access Project

The Peterborough Police Service with PDS and other supporting organizations received funding in August 2016 from the Proceeds of Crime Front-Line Policing program to work with the Peterborough Regional Health Centre (PRHC) to implement a naloxone distribution kit program through the hospital’s emergency department.

Project Background

In recent years, accidental deaths due to opioid overdoses and poisonings have steadily increased. Opioid overdose is the 3rd leading cause of unintentional death in Ontario, and opioid-related deaths more than double the rate of fatalities resulting from traffic collisions.

Naloxone is used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Opioids (such as morphine, heroin, methadone, oxycodone, and fentanyl) can slow or halt breathing, resulting in a loss of consciousness. Administering naloxone can help to temporarily restore normal breathing, preventing brain damage or even death.

Research shows that with minimal training, people with no medical background can recognize and treat an overdose with naloxone as successfully as a healthcare provider. Additionally, individuals are empowered by the ability to save lives, and naloxone distribution programs help reduce stigma towards people who use drugs. Naloxone does not replace the need for emergency medical care but can help prevent deaths and reduce irreversible, long-term complications associated with opioid overdose.

Take-Home Naloxone Distribution Programs are an evidence-based approach with positive benefits and are sought after by our communities. In order to effectively treat opioid addiction, it is necessary to ensure that the individuals who use opioids are alive to receive treatment.

What is the Project?

The goal of this project was to arm individuals who are at risk of overdose and their families with a life-saving, harm reduction tool. Through this partnership, the emergency department staff received training to distribute take-home naloxone kits to emergency room patients at risk of an opioid overdose.

If you or a family member use opioids, you don’t need to visit the emergency room to get a kit. Visit our Overdose Information page for more information about where you can get a FREE kit in the community.

Past Project: Challenge, Beliefs, Change (CBC)

Challenges, Beliefs, Change connects senior high school students to grade 8 feeder school classrooms to facilitate discussions about substance use, internet safety and making healthy choices. Most of this information is conveyed through hands-on activities that are engaging, interactive and interesting to both the facilitators and the students. The students are accompanied by the school liaison officer and student success teacher from the high school, who are responsible for providing support to the peer leaders.

This program was started in 1985 by Parent Action on Drugs and aims to increase knowledge and awareness of personal beliefs regarding substances and substance use; build skills, confidence and resiliency for dealing with teen challenges; foster positive relationships among youth, schools and the broader community and aid in the transition to high school. It emphasizes a non-judgmental atmosphere where youth can openly share their opinions rather than a fear-based, ‘don’t do drugs’ approach.

The program creates an opportunity for grade 8 students to:

  • Connect with high school students who will be at their school the following year.
  • Have the opportunity to meet support staff and make an early connection (student success teacher and school liaison officer).
  • Ease the transition to high school.
  • Learn important information in a fun and enjoyable environment.
  • Make a positive connection to a Peterborough police officer.

 High School Peer Leaders also have the opportunity to benefit by:

  • Increasing their confidence in public speaking.
  • Receiving substance use education.
  • Exploring the opportunity to be a role model for younger students.
  • Making connections with students who will be in their school the following year.
  • Getting involved in their community.

 Student Success Teachers benefit by:                                                        

  • Developing strong relationships with peer leaders and students alike.
  • Collaborating with other community agencies (e.g. Parent Action on Drugs, police services, Peterborough Public Health, etc.).
  • Having the opportunity to visit the feeder schools and connect with future grade 9 students.

During the 2015/16  season, data was collected to evaluate the program and a report was published in Fall 2016.

Past Project: Strengthening Families for Parents and Youth

Up to 2015, PDS implemented the Strengthening Families for Parents and Youth (SFPY) program in Peterborough. SFPY is a great program that comes from Parent Action on Drugs. The goal of the program is to improve communication between parents and teens. Topics covered included communication, praise, stress management and other issues that impact family relationships.

Benefits for Parents*:

  • Learn to understand where their teen is coming from.
  • Improve communication.
  • Find fresh approaches to old problems.
  • Set the stage for positive discipline.
  • Ensure a consistent approach to guiding their teen’s behaviour.

Benefits for Teens*:

  • Learn to understand their parents’ concerns.
  • Improve communication.
  • Build social skills to help them make good decisions that will support their well-being and mental health.

* http://www.parentactionondrugs.org/pad-sfpy/

Past Project: Life Unleashed

Life Unleashed was a speakers group made up of youth who have lived experience of alcohol and drug use and/or mental health issues.  After several months of training, participants had the opportunity to share their stories of adversity, challenge and change to other members of the Peterborough community.

The goal of Life Unleashed was to build public speaking skills for youth and empower them to share their experiences, while providing audiences (often younger youth) with insightful reflections.