These investments will help respond to the toxic illegal drug supply and prevent overdose in Ontario and British Columbia
March 17, 2022 | Toronto, ON | Health Canada
The evidence is clear that the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to a worsening of the overdose crisis, which continues to affect individuals, families and communities across Canada every single day. The pandemic has exacerbated the illegal drug supply in Canada, which is causing high rates of overdoses and deaths.
Since the onset of the opioid crisis and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada has invested more than $700 million to implement a wide range of measures to help save lives and meet the needs of people who use drugs.
Today, as part of its response to the toxic illegal drug supply, the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, along with the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, announced nearly $3.5M in funding from Health Canada's Substance Use and Addictions Program (SUAP) to extend four safer supply pilot projects in Toronto, Vancouver and Victoria. With this additional funding, these pilot projects will continue to provide prescribed medications as an alternative to the toxic illegal drug supply as well as offer services that can help prevent overdoses and save lives.
Health Canada began funding safer supply pilot projects in 2020, which use prescribed medications as an alternative to the toxic illegal drug supply to help reduce the risk of overdose. They can also connect people who use drugs to other health and social services.
To date, the Government of Canada has committed more than $60 million in funding for safer supply projects to help save lives.
Health Canada has also commissioned an independent preliminary assessment of ten federally funded safer supply projects in Ontario, British Columbia and New Brunswick. This research is an important milestone in building the evidence base on the impact of safer supply programs on individuals who use drugs and the communities where they live.
The Government of Canada continues to work with all orders of government, partners, stakeholders, Indigenous Peoples, and people with lived and living experience of substance use, and organizations in communities across the country to ensure people who use drugs have the support they need.