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Man with a mask in the Kensington Market Overdose Prevention SiteRob veered away from harmful substance use and toward a life of helping others at the Kensington Market Overdose Prevention Site

Toronto was already in the midst of an opioid crisis. COVID-19 made it worse.

Overdose deaths are up a staggering 79% since the start of the pandemic. And one out of every six people who die are homeless, making locations like the Kensington Market Overdose Prevention Site (KMOPS) more essential than ever.

At its core, KMOPS saves lives by preventing overdoses. But the value to people who use substances goes far beyond that. By making people feel comfortable and safe, they are more open to other services that improve their health: harm reduction, primary healthcare, housing and employment assistance, and mental health counselling. Better health goes hand-in-hand with increased confidence and self-worth. Rob is proof of that.

“I was on a collision course with death. Not going to lie, I got a second chance because I overdosed. That made me want to work at a safe injection site and tell the world about the risks of fentanyl. And that’s what I’m doing today as a peer worker at KMOPS. I feel that if I can help just one person stay alive, or not get HIV, I’ve done my job.

“I could talk all day about the things that are better in my life now. The boost to my self-esteem for helping others is the most wonderful thing and I’m truly living my dream working here. I love what I do!”