The SAFER Knowledge Translation & Exchange (KTE)

The SAFER Knowledge Translation & Exchange (KTE) Initiative is a program of AVI Health & Community Services and is funded by Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program (SUAP). For over 30 years, AVI has been a leader and an innovator in harm reduction and grassroots community care. We provide services for people living with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), AIDS (autoimmune deficiency syndrome), HCV (hepatitis C virus), people who use drugs, trans folks, gay men, bisexual men, queer men and men who have sex with men are available across Vancouver Island. 

AVI is also a leader in innovative and life-saving responses to the toxic unregulated drug poisoning emergency. At present, we have established prescribed safer supply (PSS) programming in four clinics on Vancouver Island. We have developed these programs through extensive consultation with people who use drugs, researchers, and clinicians. 

The SAFER KTE Initiative supports current and prospective PSS providers through hands-on capacity building. We started our work based out of the SAFER Victoria Initiative, and then focused on supporting the development of AVI’s three other PSS programs in the Comox Valley, Campbell River, and Nanaimo. Since then, we have supported or are currently supporting 19 PSS programs across the country. 

Who we are? 

The SAFER KTE team is comprised of five consultants: one experiential coordinator, two prescribers, one clinical nurse specialist, and one community pharmacy with extensive experience in PSS. 

What can we do? 

SAFER KTE can do as much or as little as our partners need. Sometimes it’s just clinical 1:1 consultation between our prescribers and prospective PSS providers. Other times it’s developing a suite of training materials—we have put together trainings on AVI’s prescribed fentanyl options, but we also teach about person-centered care, and trauma-informed approaches to de-escalation. 

We also help write new prescriber protocols, and most recently we helped co-create a powdered fentanyl protocol that we have submitted to the province for drug coverage. Essentially, we try to fill gaps in resources and supports. Our strongest asset is that we’ve all worked in and built these programs from scratch. The programs we’ve supported have been both in urban and rural settings. We’ve supported programs to navigate various logistical barriers and unique community contexts. 

How does it normally work? 

When new partners want to work with us, we send them a short needs assessment survey that helps us put together a support package. That support package ranges from policy, to training, to resources, and whatever else partners identify as priorities. It could even be support in evaluation planning and gathering participant feedback. 

If you are interested in connecting with us, please reach out to


What is KTE? 

This video provides a brief outline of AVI’s four PSS programs, the SAFER KTE Initiative and early findings from our evaluation. 

Safer Supply Checklist 

The Safer Supply Checklist is a collaboration between the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research (CISUR), SOLID Outreach, and AVI Health and Community Services. We asked people who use/d drugs what they want and need from a safer supply program in order for it to be accessible and effective. This checklist can help prospective operators and prescribers of safer supply.

Safer Supply Concept Mapping Study 

The above checklist was developed based on the safer supply concept mapping study.

Implementing the Victoria SAFER Initiative 

This practice brief highlights the early learnings we had when trying to scale up a flexible model for prescribed safer supply.

SAFER Resource: Dopesickness vs Benzodiazepine Withdrawal  This resource is just one example of many resources we have custom-made for organizations and care teams to support high quality care for people who are accessing prescribed safer supply. This resource is a tool for staff to have conversations with participants on how to differentiate between opioid withdrawal (dopesickness) and benzodiazepine withdrawal.

Dopesick v Benzo Withdrawal.pdf