Expert Task Force on Substance Use

The Expert Task Force on Substance Use concluded on July 5, 2021.

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About the Expert Task Force on Substance Use

Tragically, too many people have lost their lives to opioid-related overdoses, and the COVID-19 pandemic continues to significantly affect Canadians who use drugs or who are in recovery. The Government of Canada is committed to examining all options and evidence to respond to the tragic increase in overdoses and help save lives, while ensuring that communities across the country are safe.

The Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy (CDSS), announced in 2016, is the federal government's comprehensive, collaborative, compassionate, and evidence-based approach to drug policy, which uses a public health lens to address substance use issues. In response to the current context, and a number of calls to take this health-focused approach to substance use further, the Minister of Health has established an Expert Task Force on Substance Use (the Task Force).

The Task Force has a mandate to provide Health Canada with independent, expert advice and recommendations on:

The Task Force will deliver a first report mid-way through the mandate, and a final report approximately four months after its establishment.

The Task Force reports to the Associate Assistant Deputy Minister of the Controlled Substances and Cannabis Branch of Health Canada.

Coming together - Engaging stakeholders and Canadians

Health Canada is committed to collaborating with a wide range of partners and stakeholders to inform the path forward on drug policy in Canada, including through consultations. This commitment is reflected in the Task Force's diverse leadership model and membership.

In fulfilling its mandate, the Task Force may consider all relevant information and may consult, as required, with experts and organizations in relevant fields, including people who use drugs and people with lived and living experience, experts in the field of substance use and public health, law enforcement, Indigenous organizations and leadership, organizations representing the views of racialized Canadians, community leaders, and others.


Health Canada selected members to ensure diverse membership with a broad range of knowledge, experience, expertise, and perspectives.

The Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy Consultations

The Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy (CDSS) aims to protect the health and safety of all Canadians by minimizing harms from substance use for individuals, families and communities. This strategy is based on four pillars - prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and enforcement - and covers a broad range of substances, including alcohol, opioids, cannabis, and other drugs.

In September 2018, Health Canada led a national consultation to seek input from Canadians on the CDSS. As part of the consultation, participants were invited to anonymously share their stories on how substance use has affected their lives or the lives of people they know. The 2019 report, What We Heard: Strengthening Canada's Approach to Substance Use Issues, summarizes the feedback received from the consultation.

The Government of Canada will use the feedback from this consultation, and the advice received from the Expert Task Force on Substance Use, to help inform next steps on the CDSS and to support a public health approach to substance use.

Contact us

Task Force Secretariat (Health Canada)

Health Canada Media Relations Team

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