Government of Canada highlights $144 million from Budget 2023 that would help address harms related to substance use across Canada

Press Release

From: Health Canada

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

April 4, 2023

Every day, families and communities across the country lose loved ones to overdoses from the increasingly toxic illegal drug supply. Collectively, through harm reduction, treatment, services, as well as prevention efforts alongside all levels of government, the Government of Canada is working to try to reduce stigma, save lives, and ensure all people who use drugs have 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 how Budget 2023 proposes over $144 million to support Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program (SUAP) projects, which provides funding to community-led and not-for-profit organizations across the country.

She also highlighted over $300,000 that has already been invested in federal funding for the Government of Yukon through SUAP. This funding will enable the Government of Yukon to provide people who use substances with better access to social workers who will help them reach their health goals and access health and social services. This funding will also help to improve health outcomes for Yukoners who are at risk of experiencing substance-related harms and overdose. This includes people who face barriers accessing services such as youth, equity-deserving, and 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals.

We will continue to work with all levels of government, partners, Indigenous communities, stakeholders, people with lived and living experience, and organizations across the country to improve health outcomes for all Canadians, save lives, and work towards an end to this national public health crisis.


“Every day across Canada, including here in the Yukon, family members, friends, colleagues, and neighbors from all walks of life lose loved ones to the toxic drug and overdose crisis. As part of our bold approach to this crisis fortified by new investments in Budget 2023, our government is supporting communities in their work to address substance use harms. I thank the Government of Yukon, as well as all those on the front lines of the crisis in the Yukon, for their dedication to saving lives and reducing stigma.”

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

“Canada continues to face the tragedies of a toxic drug supply, a crisis acutely felt in the Yukon. This funding will enable continued collaboration with community-led, not-for-profit organizations and government partners to scale up prevention, harm reduction and treatment efforts. Loss of loved ones due to opioids have hit close to home for far too many Yukoners – and I will continue to support measures that accelerate our response to this public health crisis.”

Brendan Hanley
Member of Parliament for Yukon

“The Government of Canada’s investment will help Yukoners who use substances navigate services to support their health goals. It is through our collective efforts, partnership, and collaboration that we can create a more compassionate, supportive, and effective approach to addressing the Substance Use Health Emergency. We will continue to work hand in hand with our partners, stakeholders, and all Yukoners to protect lives, foster healthier communities, and bring about lasting, positive change.”

Tracy-Anne McPhee
Minister of Health and Social Services

Quick facts

  • The Government of Canada continues to work closely with partners to provide a compassionate and evidence-based response to the overdose crisis, the toxic illegal drug supply and broader substance use related harms.
  • The projects announced today are funded through Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program (SUAP). 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, Health Canada has invested over $400 million in over 380 This investment includes over $100 million in funding for safer supply projects across Canada through the Substance Use and Addictions Program. This includes supporting a range of service delivery projects in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick, research/knowledge transfer and exchange projects.
  • In the past month, Minister Bennett has announced over $24 million in funding through the SUAP for 22 projects across British Columbia, Ontario, the Prairies, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories. Those projects will help to improve health outcomes for people living with addiction and those at risk of substance-related harms and overdose.
  • 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 Government of Yukon’s Social Worker, System Navigation and Harm Reduction Program.
  • The Federal Government has made investments in Health Canada’s SUAP in each successive budget since 2017.
    • Budget 2022 announced $100 million for SUAP. Of this, $75.8 million will be directed to communities across Canada and $21.8 million is earmarked for projects in Quebec. These investments will support more than 75 additional community-based projects.
    • Budget 2023 proposes to provide a total of $359.2 million over five years, starting in 2023-24 to support a renewed Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy, which would guide the government’s work to save lives and protect the health and safety of Canadians. This includes $144 million over five years to SUAP to fund community-based supports.
  • The government is committed to reducing the stigma associated with substance use so that Canadians feel safe asking for help. The latest data show that, between January and September 2022, opioid-related deaths and harms continued to persist at high levels, with 20 deaths per day, and 14 hospitalizations per day.
  • Since 2017, the Government of Canada has taken evidence-based action to address the overdose crisis and committed over $800 million to support community-based treatment, harm reduction, prevention and stigma reduction activities, as well as legislative and regulatory action.
  • Addiction is a treatable medical condition, not a choice, yet many people affected by addiction face stigma and feel shame. 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.

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