Supporting health care providers through Lawson Health Research Institute

Press Release

From: Health Canada

March 25, 2024
Canada is facing an unrelenting and tragic toxic illegal drug and overdose crisis. No community has been left untouched. The impacts are seen and felt among our friends, family and neighbours. That’s why the Government of Canada is leveraging all the tools at its disposal to work towards an end to this national public health crisis—including efforts aimed at prevention, harm reduction, treatment, recovery and enforcement.

Today, Arielle Kayabaga, Member of Parliament for London West, on behalf of the Honourable Ya’ara Saks, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, highlighted an investment of $72,768 to the Lawson Health Research Institute through Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program (SUAP).

These funds have already helped St. Joseph’s Health Care London and London Health Sciences Centre train health care and service providers to create tailored harm reduction strategies for people who use methamphetamine. This project, which has trained over 400 hospital staff to date, is helping increase staff’s understanding of patients’ lived experience, resulting in more approachable and compassionate care, as well as improved interactions between clients and health workers.

Supporting projects like this through SUAP is a key part of the renewed Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy – Canada’s comprehensive response to substance-related harms and the overdose crisis in Canada.

The Government of Canada will continue to work with all levels of government, public health and public safety partners, social sectors, Indigenous communities, stakeholders, people with lived and living experience, and community organizations across the country to support a full range of services, improve health outcomes for all Canadians and save lives.

“Supporting local organizations who have deep roots in their communities and have the trust of their patients is making a real difference in people’s lives in the community of London, Ontario. This investment is part of our comprehensive and compassionate approach to reducing harms as a result of substance use. We will continue to use every tool at our disposal to build a safer, healthier and more caring future for all Canadians.”

The Honourable Ya’ara Saks
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health
“Here in London, just like many other cities across Canada, we’re seeing substance use harms continue to take a tragic toll on our families and friends. We are committed to supporting organizations who are on the ground in communities, helping to keep people who use substances safe. There is no one size fits all solution to the toxic illegal drug and overdose crisis, but we will continue to work together to help save lives.”

Arielle Kayabaga
Member of Parliament for London West

“This funding is allowing us to partner with health-care providers and those with lived experience of using methamphetamine to advance harm reduction in hospitals. We have gained new understanding of barriers to harm reduction like stigma and lack of knowledge, and we are testing educational approaches that are proving to be effective in improving safety and the patient experience.”

Dr. Cheryl Forchuk
Scientist and Assistant Scientific Director at Lawson Health Research Institute

Quick facts

  • Since 2017, $575 million have been committed for nearly 390 projects through Health Canada’s SUAP.
  • Through SUAP, the Government of Canada provides funding to not-for-profit organizations, other levels of government, Indigenous communities, academia, and other groups for projects aiming to minimize substance use harms and improve health outcomes for Canadians. These community-led programs and projects leverage the expertise of people with lived and living experience with substance use, and focus on  reaching priority populations in Canada, such as low-income, and unhoused populations.
  • Through new investments announced in Budget 2023, the Government of Canada is also investing over $359 million, over five years, to support a renewed Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy, which will continue to guide our work to protect the health and safety of Canadians. This includes $144 million to the Substance Use and Addictions Program to fund community-based support and other evidence-based health interventions.

Associated links


Yuval Daniel
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Ya’ara Saks
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health

Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada


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