Government of Canada supports projects to help people living with alcohol use disorder

News release

June 10, 2021 | Ottawa, Ontario | Health Canada

Alcohol is one of the most commonly used substances among Canadians. According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, hospitalizations due to alcohol-related harms and overall alcohol consumption increased during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. High-risk drinking and alcohol use disorder (AUD) have significant and widespread health, social, and economic consequences. The Government of Canada recognizes that the effects of problematic alcohol use present a serious public health and safety issue that affects individuals and communities across the country, especially within the context of the pandemic.

Today, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, announced nearly $2 million over two years for three projects in Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador to address alcohol-related harms, including AUD. The organizations receiving funding are Boyle Street Service Society, the McMan Youth, Family and Community Services Association and the St. John’s Women’s Centre.

These projects will support treatment through a managed alcohol program, other substance use disorder initiatives, community training, capacity and awareness building and wrap-around supports, such as improving housing access. Through these initiatives, the organizations will provide assistance to women, Indigenous peoples, and people experiencing homelessness.

The Government of Canada is committed to addressing alcohol-related harms more broadly through a public health approach.


"Alcohol use disorder is a health issue that faces considerable stigma. It is challenging for people living with AUD to get compassionate support, especially during COVID-19. By providing Canadians treatment options that meet them where they are at, this health condition can be successfully managed through these evidence-based programs. These organizations are doing important work, which are helping Canadians reach their recovery goals and live healthier lives."

The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health

"Together McMan and Aventa Center for Excellence for Women with Addictions will leverage this partnership to deliver an innovative program that recognizes the unique needs of women in Calgary who are struggling with substance use and addiction. The Journeys Program seeks to improve the continuum of care for women with addictions by providing pre-treatment outreach services, support during treatment, post-treatment wraparound supports, and community education. By engaging family and natural supports, the program strives to increase the overall well-being and long term sustainable recovery for women."

Karin Matthiessen
Director of Services, McMan Youth, Family and Community Services Association

"The development and operation of the first managed alcohol program in Newfoundland and Labrador will fill a service gap in the province for women and gender diverse people whose lives are deeply impacted by alcohol addiction. This program truly reflects the principles of harm reduction, trauma-informed practice, and feminism that are foundational to the work of the St. John's Women Centre. We look forward to making this a community-wide initiative, especially through the inclusion of lived experience in all aspects of the program."

Laura Winters
Executive Director, St. John’s Women Centre

Quick Facts

  • Alcohol use is associated with more than 200 diseases and conditions (e.g., alcoholic liver cirrhosis, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder [FASD], cardiovascular disease and cancer) and alcohol-related harms cost Canadian society $16.6 billion in 2017, a higher cost than tobacco, cannabis, opioids or any other substance.
  • According to recent data, during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic between March and September 2020, hospitalizations due to alcohol-related harms rose by 5%. Between October and December 2020, about 30% of Canadians reported that their alcohol consumption had increased since the start of the pandemic.
  • 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 (SUAP). 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 projects announced today are funded from this commitment.
  • In January 2021, the Minister of Health announced federal funding of more than $1.5 million over three years to the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU) to develop the first National Guideline for the Clinical Management of High-Risk Drinking and AUD. The guideline will help Canadian health care providers quickly identify and address harmful drinking, and treat and support patients throughout their lifetime.
  • On June 8, 2021, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research launched a catalyst grant funding opportunity in the area of alcohol research to inform health policies and interventions. It will support projects related to alcohol policies, prevention, harm reduction and treatment of problematic alcohol use, and key populations and determinants of health.
  • The Government of Canada has also provided $1.5 million to the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction to update Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines. The updated guidelines will include recommendations for specific populations, for example youth, middle-aged people, women and older adults. In addition, the guidelines will provide information on health outcomes, such as illness, death and other harms related to alcohol use. The guidelines are anticipated to be updated by spring 2022.

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Thierry Bélair
Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health

Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada

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