Backgrounder: Strengthening opioid overdose response capacity in communities across Canada


March 29, 2021

The Government of Canada continues to support communities as they work to respond to the opioid overdose crisis. This includes $20 million in funding for four recently announced projects to increase opioid overdose response awareness and improve access and distribution of naloxone. The projects below are supported through Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program.

Funded projects

  • Advanced Coronary Treatment (ACT) Foundation of Canada (based in Ottawa, ON)
    Empowering Youth with Opioid Overdose Response Training and Use of Naloxone

    The ACT Foundation of Canada is receiving $2,603,187 over 39 months to develop and implement opioid overdose response training as part of its existing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) curriculum offered to high schools across Canada. Over the course of the project, approximately 370,000 grade 9/secondaire III and 10 students and more than 2,000 teachers will learn how to recognize someone who is in distress due to an opioid overdose and how to administer naloxone. Students will be taught by their own teachers who themselves will be receiving the training through a “train the trainer” approach.

  • Canadian Red Cross (based in Ottawa, ON)
    Equalizing Access to Naloxone and Opioid Poisoning Education with a Focus on Rural, Remote and Isolated Communities

    The Canadian Red Cross is receiving $7,935,489 over 39 months to improve access to naloxone and reduce knowledge gaps in how to respond to opioid-related overdoses within rural, remote and isolated communities. The organization is anticipating reaching up to 1.6 million people across Canada through educational initiatives designed to increase opioids-related awareness. 17,600 naloxone kits will also be distributed in underserved areas.

  • St. John Ambulance (based in Ottawa, ON)
    Opioid Overdose Response and Reducing Stigma Through Education and Distribution

    St. John Ambulance is receiving $7,490,388 over 39 months to deliver an opioids overdose response awareness program. It will emphasize the roles that stigma and discrimination play in creating negative outcomes for one’s wellbeing and will reach approximately 530,000 Canadians. St. John Ambulance will also provide virtual and in-person naloxone training, with the goal of distributing 30,000 kits in underserved communities.

  • St. John Ambulance (based in Ottawa, ON)
    Naloxone Training and Distribution in Homeless Shelters under Employment and Social Development Canada’s Reaching Home Project

    Additionally, St. John Ambulance is receiving $1,973,440 million over 18 months to provide naloxone training and distribute kits to 10,800 volunteers and staff at organizations helping people experiencing homelessness across Canada, including shelters. Support workers will be trained on how to recognize the signs of an overdose and administer naloxone, and will in turn teach people experiencing homelessness these important life-saving skills. To reach these communities, St. John Ambulance will leverage an existing network that is being funded through Employment and Social Development Canada’s Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy.

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