Statement from the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health on the Overdose Crisis

OTTAWA, ON, June 26, 2023 /CNW/ – Today’s release of the national data on opioid and stimulant-related harms is evidence that the overdose crisis, and the increasingly toxic illegal drug supply, continue to have a devastating impact on individuals, communities and families across Canada. Our hearts go out to all those who have lost loved ones to this crisis.

Tragically, between January and December 2022, an average of 20 lives were lost and approximately 14 people were hospitalized each day for opioid-related poisoning. The number of lives lost and impacted is still immense.

The Government of Canada recognizes that substance use is a public health issue that is shaped by complex and interrelated factors, many of which can be beyond an individual’s control. This includes experiences of trauma, racism and discrimination, and equitable access to adequate health care, supportive housing, employment, and other social services. It also includes access to integrated services for those who need them and which help keep people well. We must continue to take all necessary steps to fight stigma and expand access to a full continuum of supports, including prevention, harm reduction, treatment and law enforcement – the four foundational, and internationally recognized pillars of the Canadian Drugs and Substance Strategy (CDSS).

Since 2017, over 70% of our investments to address this crisis have been committed to increasing a full continuum of strategies to save lives, including access to life-saving harm reduction and evidence-based treatment services. Between 2017 and March 2023, more than 47,000 overdoses have been reversed at supervised consumption sites across Canada and more than 239,000 referrals were made to health and social services.

We are also supporting projects that provide prescriber-led access to pharmaceutical-grade drugs for people at a high risk of overdose from the illegal toxic drug supply. These safer supply projects are being pilot tested by healthcare providers in a number of jurisdictions to assess its potential to save lives and connect people who use drugs with a variety of supports, including recovery services, when they are ready for them.

Through new investments announced in Budget 2023, the Government of Canada is also proposing over $359 million, over five years, to support a renewed CDSS, 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 supports, and other evidence-based health interventions and $20.2 million to fund a new community-based program for the prevention of substance use among young people.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to preventing or reducing overdose deaths and substance use harms, but together, we can ensure that everyone who uses drugs, or is experiencing addiction, receives the integrated, compassionate, culturally-competent and trauma-informed care they need and deserve.

The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, P.C., M.P.

SOURCE Public Health Agency of Canada

Statement from the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health on the Overdose Crisis WeeklyReviewer

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