Government of Canada supports safer supply project for people with opioid use disorder in Guelph

News release

Life-saving initiative will provide pharmaceutical-grade medication as alternative to toxic illegal drug supply during COVID-19 pandemic and beyond

May 20, 2021 | Guelph, Ontario | Health Canada

The overdose crisis continues to affect communities and families across Canada. Tragically, we have seen substantial increases in overdose deaths and related harms during the COVID-19 pandemic, including in Ontario where overdoses deaths increased significantly since the onset of the pandemic. The Government of Canada continues to support increasing access to safer supply projects in communities across Canada to help prevent drug overdoses during the pandemic and beyond.

Today, on behalf of the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, Member of Parliament Lloyd Longfield announced more than $1 million over two years for a safer supply project in Guelph. This innovative project will provide a pharmaceutical alternative to the toxic illegal drug supply and help prevent overdoses.

Through this funding, the Government of Canada is supporting the Guelph Community Health Centre to increase the capacity of their current program from 10 to provide an estimated 150 individuals with access to prescription hydromorphone, as well as wrap-around care. This initiative will also connect patients with essential health and social services, including treatment, which may be more difficult to access during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Government of Canada continues to work with all levels of government, partners, stakeholders, people who use drugs and people with lived and living experience and organizations in communities across the country to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and the overdose crisis.


"The COVID-19 pandemic has made it even more difficult for people who use substances to get support. We have to do more to reach those most at risk. Together with community organizations in Ontario and across the country, we can do better to ensure people can better access supports and treatment that will help alleviate suffering and save lives."

The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health

"Health Canada's Substance Use and Addictions Program (SUAP) provides contribution funding for time-limited projects that address drug and substance use in Canada. The Safer Supply program is another tool in the toolbox of the Guelph Community Health Centre programming to prevent people from dying from opioid overdose due to unsafe supply. Clients will also have access to the individualized care the GCHC provides in other programs, including wrap-around, team-based primary care. I am very pleased to offer federal support to the continuum of care provided by the professional and caring staff of our Community Health Centre."

Lloyd Longfield
Member of Parliament

"People in Guelph are dying in record numbers, and we know the uncertainty brought on by COVID-19 has contributed to increasing substance use and isolation, making our existing crisis much worse. With this funding, program staff will be able to extend our wrap-around care services to a much broader group of clients who are at significant risk of fatal overdose."

Melissa Kwiatkowski
Primary Health Director, Guelph Community Health Centre

Quick Facts

  • To further help people dealing with problematic substance use and tackle the ongoing overdose crisis, the Government recently announced in Budget 2021 an additional $116 million for the Substance Use and Addictions Program. The funding would support a range of innovative approaches to harm reduction, treatment, and prevention at the community level.
  • This builds on $66 million invested in the 2020 Fall Economic Statement for community-based organizations responding to substance use issues, including helping them provide frontline services in a COVID-19 context. The project announced today is funded from this commitment.
  • To date, the Government of Canada has committed more than $25 million in funding for Ontario safer supply projects to help save lives.
  • Early findings from Canadian evidence show that providing medications as an alternative to highly toxic illegal drugs for people at risk of overdose can help save lives and improve health outcomes. It can also help establish an entry to primary care and treatment for people with substance use disorder.
  • The project announced today is funded through Health Canada's Substance Use and Addictions Program—a federal grants and contributions program that provides financial support to provinces, territories and non-governmental and Indigenous organizations to strengthen responses to drug and substance use issues in Canada.

Associated Links


Cole Davidson
Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health

Media Relations
Health Canada

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