Government of Canada announces nearly $40 million to support people who use substances across Canada

Press Release

From: Health Canada

Improving health outcomes for people at risk of substance-related harms and overdose across Canada

July 20, 2022

The overdose crisis is an ongoing national public health crisis that is having a tragic impact on people who use substances, their families, and communities across Canada. This crisis has only worsened over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the increasingly toxic drug supply, evidence shows a significant rise in opioid and other substance-related deaths and serious harms. The latest data on substance use related harms show that 7,560 people died due to opioid overdose-related deaths across Canada in 2021. The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that all Canadians have access to the life-saving substance use services and supports they need.

Today, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, announced nearly $40 million in federal funding for 73 projects across Canada through Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program (SUAP). These projects will help to improve health outcomes for people who are at risk of experiencing substance-related harms and overdose by scaling up prevention, harm reduction and treatment efforts, including access to safer supply programs. The funding announced today will allow innovative community-led projects to continue serving the many communities and people who need them.

Today’s funding will also provide support to those disproportionately affected by problematic substance use or who face barriers accessing services, including women, youth, young and middle-aged men, Indigenous Peoples, people experiencing chronic pain, 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals, and people at increased risk of substance-related poisoning and overdose.

The Government of Canada recognizes that more needs to be done to support people who use substances. We are committed to building on our efforts to respond to this crisis and will continue to work with all levels of government, partners, Indigenous communities, stakeholders, people with lived and living experience of addiction, and organizations in communities across the country to work towards an end to this national public health crisis.

Quotes

“Drug overdose in Canada has spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic and with the increasingly toxic drug supply. Recent data shows historic opioid overdose-related deaths across Canada in 2021. Too many lives have been lost to this crisis, leaving too many families and friends to grieve. Today, our government is taking further action by investing in projects that will support people dealing with problematic substance use across the country. I thank all the organizations receiving funding for their dedication in decreasing substance use harms, preventing overdose, increasing safer supply initiatives, and reducing stigma.”

The Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health

“As one recipient of today’s announcement we are grateful for the opportunity to bring innovative approaches to saving lives. Our grant will enable us to install a technological system that alerts emergency responders to a person at risk of overdose. Building on a successful pilot, we will be installing this technology throughout all our supportive housing and shelters here in Vancouver and Victoria. The evaluation of this program will bring evidence that could support deploying the Lifeguard Digital Health app even more broadly. We are very pleased to be bringing new tools to the fight to save lives.”

Micheal Vonn
Chief Executive Officer, PHS Community Services Society

Quick Facts

  • The latest data show that the number of opioid-related deaths remain high and have continued to climb throughout 2021; the average number of opioid-related deaths per day in 2021 was 21, and 17 for hospitalizations.
  • Budget 2022 proposes to provide $100 million over three years to support harm reduction, treatment, and prevention at the community level.
  • This builds on the $116 million provided in Budget 2021 and $66 million in the 2020 Fall Economic Statement for the Substance Use and Addictions Program.
  • The Government of Canada continues to work closely with partners to provide a compassionate and evidence-based response to the crisis.
  • Since 2017, the Government has dedicated more than $800 million to address the overdose crisis.
  • The projects announced today are funded through Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program. Through SUAP, the Government of Canada provides grants and contributions funding to other levels of government, as well as community-led and not-for-profit organizations, to respond to current drug and substance use issues in Canada. Since 2017, it has supported over 300 projects across the country. This investment includes over $67 million invested on safer supply.
  • Addiction is not a choice, it is a treatable medical condition, yet many people affected by addiction face stigma. Stigma is negative attitudes, beliefs or behaviors about or towards a group of people because of their situation in life. It includes discrimination, prejudice, judgment and stereotypes, which can isolate people who use drugs. The language we use has a direct and deep impact on people around us. All Canadians, including media and health professionals, can reduce stigma by changing the words they use related to substance use and people who uses drugs.
  • The initiatives announced today stretch across the continuum of care (prevention, harm reduction, treatment), and vary from community-based service delivery projects like drug checking, to national initiatives, like the update of the 2017 Canadian guidelines for the use of opioids for the management of chronic non cancer pain.

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Associated Links

Contacts

Maja Staka
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health
343-552-5568

Public Inquiries:
613-957-2991
1-866-225-0709

Media Relations
Health Canada
613-957-2983
[email protected]

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