Government of Canada supports project connecting people at risk of experiencing opioid-related overdoses to community services in Peterborough

Press Release

From: Health Canada

Funding will redirect people who use drugs from the criminal justice system

August 26, 2020 – Peterborough, Ontario – Health Canada

Problematic substance use has devastating impacts on people, families and communities across Canada. Tragically, the COVID-19 outbreak has worsened the situation for many Canadians struggling with substance use. The Government of Canada continues to address this serious public health issue by focusing on increasing access to quality treatment and harm reduction services nationwide.

Today, on behalf of the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, the Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development, announced more than $1.9 million in funding over the next three years to the Peterborough Police Service. Through this funding, people who use drugs and experience mental health issues will be connected to newly-created community-based outreach and support services.

As part of this project, the Peterborough Police Service is working with local partners to create a community-based outreach team to increase the capacity for front-line community services to help people at risk who are referred by police. With the help of this new team, people who use drugs or experience mental health issues will be redirected from the criminal justice system to harm reduction, peer support, health and social services.

Additionally, this initiative will increase access to culturally appropriate services for Indigenous Peoples, LGBTQ2+ populations, youth, women, and those living with HIV through partnerships with other organizations such as Nogojiwanong Friendship Centre and Peterborough AIDS Research Network.

The Government of Canada is committed to working with partners, peer workers, people with lived and living experience and other stakeholders to ensure Canadians receive the support they need to reduce the harms related to substance use.


“Problematic substance use is a health and social issue first and foremost. I am pleased to support an initiative that brings together first responders, peer support workers, community partners and health and social services, to give people who use drugs access to the services they need, rather than directing them to the criminal justice system.”

The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health

“The opioid crisis has touched all of us in one form or another. These are our neighbours, friends, parents, and children who are struggling with addiction. Programs like the one announced today show that we are working together as a community to support each other and bring an end to this crisis.”

The Honourable Maryam Monsef
Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development

“This is an excellent example applying the principals of community-based policing to support multi-sector collaboration. We would like to thank Health Canada for funding this important pilot project, creating a community-based response team, which includes a paramedic, complex case managers for addictions, and peer outreach workers. A continuum of responses, tools, services and programs is vital to address the complex issues surrounding the overdose crisis. This pilot project is a critical addition to the County and City of Peterborough’s efforts.”

Peter Williams, Community Development and Engagement Coordinator
Peterborough Police Services

Quick facts

  • Problematic substance use is a treatable health issue that can have devastating effects on Canadians from every walk of life. It is estimated that approximately one in five Canadians aged 15 years and older experiences a substance use disorder in their lifetime.
  • The Government of Canada has also made legislative and regulatory changes to encourage people to contact emergency services in the event of an overdose, reduce regulatory barriers to harm reduction services, and make certain medications to treat severe opioid use disorder more accessible.
  • This funding is provided through the Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program (SUAP). The SUAP is a federal grants and contributions program that provides financial support to provinces, territories, non-governmental organizations, Indigenous organizations, key stakeholders and individuals to strengthen responses to drug and substance use issues in Canada.
  • On August 15, 2020, Health Canada launched a 60-day consultation process to seek comments from Canadians on supervised consumption sites and services, in order to better understand the needs of communities across Canada during the opioid overdose crisis. Feedback received through the consultation will inform the development of proposed new regulations under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA).

Associated links


Cole Davidson
Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health

Media Relations
Health Canada
[email protected]

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