Harm reduction facility in Drumheller, Alta. penitentiary could open as soon as end of this month.

There are just a few supervised consumption sites across Canada, most in hospitals or community health centres, but this month one of the harm reduction facilities could open in an entirely new location — a federal prison.

Jeff Wilkins, president of the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers, says the union has been told by Correctional Service Canada that the facility in the Drumheller penitentiary, in southern Alberta, will open by the end of this month.

"This is a kind of lesser of two evils approach for us," said Wilkins, who added that the prison currently has a needle exchange program — meaning if inmates are using, it's in the privacy of their cells.

The current system sees clean needles handed out to inmates to prevent sharing. The new facility would be a sterile place for people to consume illegal substances under the supervision of health professionals.