Government of Canada announces funding to help reduce stigma and support families affected by the overdose crisis

News release

April 15, 2021 | Ottawa, ON | Health Canada

The overdose crisis continues to have devastating impacts on Canadian communities and families. Tragically, the latest national data show that in many areas of the country, the COVID-19 pandemic is worsening the ongoing public health crisis of opioid-related harms and deaths. Stigma is a significant barrier to accessing health and other services and has a major impact on people who use drugs and their friends and families.

That is why today, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, announced nearly $1.7 million in funding to projects led by the Community Addictions Peer Support Association (CAPSA) and Moms Stop the Harm (MSTH) to help organizations take action against stigma related to substance use and support families who are trying to help loved ones living with addiction or who have lost someone to overdose.

Addiction is not a choice—it is a treatable medical condition that requires a broad range of care and treatment options. The Government of Canada remains committed to a collaborative, comprehensive, compassionate and evidence-based approach to addressing the overdose crisis and continues to take action through harm reduction, prevention, enforcement and treatment measures.


"Too many Canadians share the heartbreak of losing a loved one to a drug-related overdose and often, feelings of shame and guilt can make it difficult for people who are using substances to seek help. Addiction and substance use is a health issue, not a moral one. By supporting initiatives like these, we can meet Canadians where they're at, and support them during the overdose crisis."

The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health

"CAPSA recognizes that for people with lived and living experience, systemic stigma is not invisible—its harms are real. We are pleased to lead this work. Our highly skilled people with lived experience of substance use will work directly with organizations, in partnership, to assess and address systemic stigma and improve health outcomes for all Canadians regarding substance use."

Anthony Esposti, Chief Executive Officer
Community Addictions Peer Support Association (CAPSA)

"The overdose crisis is affecting families across the country. Families who support loved ones living with problematic substance use or have lost loved ones face stigma and live with fear, shame, and guilt. We support one another with kindness, compassion, and evidence, thanks to the 'Stronger Together Canada' project. We provide families with the tools I wish I had before it was too late for my son Danny."

Petra Schulz, Co-Founder and Board Member
Moms Stop the Harm

Quick facts

  • MSTH is receiving $344,935 over 26 months to establish a network of volunteer and paid peer facilitators with lived and living experience of addiction. Support services will provide families with information on evidence-based services and resources. They will also offer harm reduction education to families on how to help keep their loved ones safe, as well as grief support to families that have lost loved ones to overdoses.

  • CAPSA is receiving $1,335,563 over 26 months to work with trained peer leaders who will help influencing decision makers of organizations that serve people who use substances. These efforts will bring system-level changes to reduce substance-related stigma within their respective organizations.

  • People who use drugs continue to face barriers and risks related to the toxicity of the illegal drug supply and limited access to health and other services, including life-saving harm reduction and treatment.

  • As part of the 2020 Fall Economic Statement, the Government of Canada committed to help Canadians living with substance use by providing an additional $66 million in funding over 2 years for community-based organizations responding to substance use issues, including to help them provide frontline services in a COVID-19 context.

  • Funding for these projects is provided through Health Canada's Substance Use and Addictions Program (SUAP).

Associated links


Cole Davidson
Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health

Media Relations
Health Canada

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