Government of Canada helping expand access to safer supply across Canada
Project will connect safer supply projects and healthcare providers to share knowledge and best practices
June 28, 2021 | London, 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. The Government of Canada continues to support increasing access to safer supply services 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, Peter Fragiskatos, Member of Parliament, announced nearly $1 million for a project that will help support and build capacity in communities across Canada to provide safer supply services. This initiative will help increase access to pharmaceutical alternatives to the toxic illegal drug supply and prevent overdoses.
Through this funding, the London InterCommunity Health Centre, a leader in the field of safer supply, will bring together community health organizations, primary care teams, private practice providers and federally funded safer supply projects across Canada to build expertise in the delivery of safer supply services. The “National Safer Opioid Supply – Community of Practice” project will facilitate the sharing of resources and best practices, helping to expand access to safer supply– including in rural, remote and under-resourced areas. In addition to providing an alternative to the toxic illegal drug supply, safer supply projects 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.
“We know that safer supply is a tool that works to prevent overdoses. As the overdose crisis worsens during the pandemic, we must make successful interventions like this available to people who use substances wherever they live. By bringing service providers together to collaborate, as this project does, we are increasing access to safer supply in more communities and saving more lives.”
The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health
“I am proud to support a London-based organization so it can share its expertise with community organizations across Canada. This project will help ensure people can better access supports and treatment that will help alleviate suffering and save lives.”
Member of Parliament
“The ongoing opioid crisis has been significantly exacerbated by two concurrent crises - the shortage of housing and the COVID-19 pandemic. Communities across Canada are being devastated. The need for safer supply programs has never been clearer, and Health Canada has recognized this need by committing itself to funding a National Safer Supply Community of Practice. This capacity building initiative brings together healthcare providers, social service workers, and people with lived experience to support safer supply programs so that they are accessible to more people, including those who live in rural and remote communities. Safer supply is a critical approach in the continuum of care for people who use substances.”
Executive Director, London InterCommunity Health Centre
To further help people dealing with problematic substance use and address the ongoing overdose crisis, the Government recently announced in Budget 2021 an additional $116 million for the Substance Use and Addictions Program. The funding will 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.
Currently, Health Canada is providing funding to 18 safer supply projects being implemented in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia through the Substance Use and Addictions Program.
Today’s funding is in addition to more than $6.5 million over 50 months provided by Health Canada to the London InterCommunity Health Centre for its “Safer Opioid Supply Program.”
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.
- Government of Canada highlights support for safer drug supply projects in Ontario
- Helping people who use substances during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Federal actions on opioids to date
- Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program (SUAP)
- Interactive map: A list of SUAP safer supply projects
- Health Canada Toolkit: COVID-19 and substance use
Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health
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