Government of Canada invests in new measures to address the opioid crisis and emerging drug threats
July 17, 2019 - Surrey, British Columbia - Health Canada
The opioid crisis represents the most serious public health issue in Canada’s recent history. At the same time, the rise of methamphetamine use most notably in the Prairie provinces, presents unique challenges and serious health harms. Additional measures are needed to both address the opioid crisis and respond to emerging threats, like methamphetamines.
Today, the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health, announced that the Government of Canada is providing up to an additional $76.2 million to address the opioid crisis and problematic substance use, bringing the total recent investment to more than $100 million, including $30.5 million from Budget 2019. These investments include:
- $41.8 million to scale up key life-saving measures in underserved communities,
- $33.6 million to mitigate the impacts of the illegal drug supply, and
- $31.3 million to identify and address emerging drug threats, and the growing use of methamphetamines.
To support the smaller cities, rural communities and remote regions increasingly affected by the opioid crisis, the Government of Canada is expanding access to key life-saving measures. This includes distributing naloxone kits and providing opioid overdose response training to individuals, staff and volunteers at public facilities as well as incorporating overdose response training into existing first aid training programs. The Government will also support projects that offer new or expanded access to harm reduction services, provide opioid agonist treatment in underserved communities and help to connect people to health and social services.
Through innovative pilot projects, the federal government will also increase access to and evaluate pharmaceutical-grade medications as safer alternatives to the contaminated illegal drug supply. Pharmaceutical-grade medications can serve as a treatment for people with severe opioid use disorders. At the same time, these initiatives will connect people to other health and social services as well as provide valuable evidence to support the development of best practices.
The Government of Canada is also taking steps to respond to other emerging drug threats by funding new projects to address problematic methamphetamine use, building knowledge of effective interventions, and breaking down barriers that prevent people who use drugs from seeking help. It will also develop an early warning system and expanded data collection to allow early detection and intervention on emerging issues related to substance use.
As part of these investments, the Minister launched two calls for proposals: approximately $50 million for initiatives through Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program and approximately $3.5 million through the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Pathways to Care.
“Smaller cities and rural and remote areas across the country, especially in British Columbia, are disproportionately affected by the opioid crisis. We’re helping them address it by increasing access to and evaluating safer alternatives to the contaminated illegal drug supply and expanding access to life-saving measures in underserved communities. At the same time, we’re working to ensure that all our communities, especially those in the Prairie provinces, have the tools they need to deal with other emerging substance issues, like the rise in methamphetamine use.”
The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health
Today’s announcement builds on Budget 2019 that committed $30.5 million over five years, with $1 million ongoing, to expand access to safer alternatives to the illegal drug supply and support better access to opioid overdose response training and naloxone in underserved communities.
The latest national data indicates that 11,577 apparent opioid-related deaths occurred between January 2016 and December 2018.
Naloxone is proven to temporarily reverse opioid overdoses. The B.C. Centre for Disease Control estimated that from April 2016 to December 2017, 1,580 deaths were averted in B.C. alone because of take-home naloxone kits.
Office of Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health
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