Message from the Minister of Health - International Overdose Awareness Day
August 31, 2017 - Ottawa, ON - Health Canada
Today marks International Overdose Awareness Day, which is a day that aims to raise awareness that drug overdose deaths are preventable and to help reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths.
In Canada, we are facing a national public health crisis. The growing number of overdoses and deaths caused by opioids is an emergency that we must continue to address.
Each overdose-related death is a painful loss of a loved one for their family, friends and community. It is also a reminder for all of us that we have an important responsibility to understand how this crisis is affecting people in communities throughout Canada, urban and rural, and across all ages and socio-economic groups.
As I step into the new role as Federal Health Minister, I am committed to reducing the stigma associated with substance use disorder. We must speak openly and compassionately about stigma and this national crisis. I am also committed to continuing to put into place policies that reach and benefit Canadians impacted by this crisis.
The Government of Canada has put into place legislative changes that will help with harm reduction, a core pillar of the Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy, such as streamlining the application process for supervised consumption sites, making naloxone available without prescription, and passing the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act, which provides some legal protection for individuals who seek emergency help during an overdose.
As we move forward with a public health approach to drug policy, on this day of awareness, we are reminded of the critical need to keep in mind the people who will be affected by these changes and find opportunities to hear from them, consider their feedback, and take action to respond.
It is possible to reduce the number of overdose-related deaths in Canada if we provide help to those in need without judgment, prejudice or discrimination. Join me, today, in starting this conversation. Together, we can help save lives.
The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health
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