2024 NSHEN Annual Conference

As Good As It Gets: Ethics and Harm Reduction in Healthcare

April 12, 2024

12:30pm – 4:00pm ADT (online via Zoom)

The ethical questions that often arise in relation to using harm reduction approaches include: worries about supporting or facilitating harmful behaviors, concerns about not meeting practice standards for the profession, and distress about contributing to sub-optimal outcomes.

This conference offers an opportunity to discuss these questions with experts and colleagues from different care contexts.

Conference Objectives:

At the end of this conference, participants will be able to:

  • Identify values that are relevant to discussions of harm reduction
  • Describe the ethical questions that arise related to harm reduction across different practice contexts
  • Reflect on a case study related to harm reduction in practice
  • Identify facilitators and barriers to integrating harm reduction approaches into health care practice


Registration is now open!

Visit the Zoom link below to register:



12:30-12:35 – Settle, land acknowledgment, equity statement, objectives with Marika Warren

12:35-12:50 – Brief history of harm reduction and key values with Daniel Buchman

12:50-13:25 – Harm reduction in practice – Dignity of Risk with Andria Bianchi and Debra Wells-Hopey

13:25-13:35 – Video simulation 1 – Using substances on the medical floor with Kate Mercer & Ward Phillips

13:35-13:40 – Discussion of simulation 1 with Sara Wuite and Alana Weatherbee

13:40-13:55 – Plenary discussion of simulation 1 with Sara Wuite and Alana Weatherbee (facilitated by Marika Warren)

13:55-14:15 – Break

14:15-14:25 – Video simulation 2 – Conversation between pharmacist and patient around early refills with Jennifer Tohme & Shelly Brown

14:25-14:30 – Response to simulation 2 with Thomas Veniot

14:30-14:45 – Plenary discussion of simulation 2 with Thomas Veniot (facilitated by Marika Warren)

14:45-15:25 – Harm reduction research with Daniel Buchman & Janet Curran

15:25-15:40 – Concluding thoughts

15:40-15:45 – Thank you!

Guest Speakers

Marika Warren, PhD, NSHEN Ethicist

Marika Warren is an assistant professor with the Department of Bioethics at Dalhousie University and a health care ethicist for the Nova Scotia Health Ethics Network (NSHEN). Her role with NSHEN involves building ethics capacity in Nova Scotia by providing ethics support such as education, consultation, and assistance with policy development. Marika also be participates in ethics research and collaborations as a member of the Ethics Collaborations Team.

Amanda Porter, PhD, Health Care Ethicist

Amanda Porter is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Bioethics at Dalhousie University and member of the Ethics Collaborations Team which participates in ethics-based collaborations between the Department, Nova Scotia Health, the IWK Health Centre and the Nova Scotia Health Ethics Network (NSHEN).

Daniel Buchman, PhD., MSW, RSW, Assistant Professor

Dr Daniel Buchman is a Bioethicist and Scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, an Associate Professor in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, and a Member of the Joint Centre for Bioethics at the University of Toronto. His primary areas of research interest include ethical issues related to mental health, substance use, and chronic pain, and his research draws upon a multi-disciplinary toolkit of conceptual and empirical methods. He proudly serves as a member of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Advisory Committee on Ethics.

Andria Bianchi, PhD.

Andria Bianchi, PhD, is a Clinical Ethicist at Unity Health Toronto, where she provides ethics support to multiple post-acute care organizations. Since working as an ethicist, Andria has engaged in multiple projects with a harm reduction lens, including work related to “therapeutic falls” and harm reduction for people with severe and ensuring anorexia nervosa.


Kate Mercer, RN, BScN, MN 

Director, Interprofessional Practice and Learning Western Zone, Provincial Skin and Wound Care Program, Library Services 

Kate has over two decades of experience at NS Health with the majority in education and leadership roles supporting optimized practice, collaborative team-based care, internationally educated health care professionals and transition to practice. In addition to her work on the Ethics Team and IPPL Director for Western Zone, Kate is currently leading provincial initiatives such as Dynamic Health that foster theory to practice knowledge translation related to policy, evidence-informed practice, learning and content management. She is passionate about establishing collaborations that promote person-centered care, professional practice and building capacity to manage evolving trends in health care.

Sara Wuite 

Sara Wuite (she/her) is the Harm Reduction Consultant in Public Health at Nova Scotia Health. Her work focuses on supporting community-based organizations to deliver harm reduction services in Nova Scotia and in system capacity development for harm reduction. Sara holds a Master of Public Health in Social Inequities in Health from Simon Fraser University.

Alana Weatherbee

Alana Weatherbee (she/her) is the Program Manager at Northern Healthy Connections Society and a Person with Lived Experience (PWLE). She has a passion for advocating for people who use drugs (PWUD). As well as educating community partners and the public on the stigma and barriers PWUD experience when accessing services and resources.

Thomas Veinot

Thomas is a practicing community pharmacist in the Annapolis Valley while working as a Quality and Privacy Specialist for a national pharmacy chain. Thomas has 10+ years experience supporting their community through education, advocacy and support for various at risk communities. Currently, Thomas sits as a member of the NSPMP Board and Board Member of the Open Arms Resource Centre Society.

Janet Curran

Janet Curran is a Professor in the School of Nursing at Dalhousie University, Research Chair in Quality and Patient Safety at IWK Health, Nova Scotia Health and Dalhousie University and Implementation Science Lead at the Maritime SPOR SUPPORT Unit. She is the Scientific Lead in the Strengthening Transitions in Care lab at IWK Health where her program of research is focused on co-designing and evaluating best practice and policy change interventions to improve transitions in care for patients and families. Her co-design work is informed by collaborating with multiple stakeholders including patients, parents and caregivers, healthcare providers, and policy makers.

Debra Wells-Hopey

Debra Wells-Hopey is Program Manager with Eating Disorders Nova Scotia and Body Peace Canada. As a PhD candidate in Education (Adult and community learning) and with a background in bioethics, she uses an academic approach combined with her first-person experience with an eating disorder to inform her work.

Jennifer Tohme

Jennifer Tohme is a Pharmacy Manager with Lawton’s Drugs. Jennifer graduated from Dalhousie University in 2015.