Government of Canada supports safer supply project for people with opioid use disorder in Kitchener-Waterloo

News release

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

July 9, 2021  |  Kitchener-Waterloo, 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, the Honourable Bardish Chagger, Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth and Raj Saini, Member of Parliament for Kitchener Centre, announced more than $2.3 million over 26 months in federal funding for a safer supply project in Kitchener-Waterloo. This innovative project will provide a pharmaceutical alternative to the toxic illegal drug supply and help prevent overdoses.

Led by The Working Centre, the project aims to improve both individual and community health and safety in Kitchener-Waterloo by reducing the harms related to the toxic illegal drug supply. A dedicated medical team will be put into place to serve approximately 200 people who use drugs in the region. 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 access supports and treatment that will help alleviate suffering and save lives.”

The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health

“The Government of Canada is committed to making targeted investments based on lived experiences and expert advice. That is why we are investing in this safer supply project to prevent overdoses, and save lives in Waterloo Region, and across Canada. I’m pleased to see a number of service providers come together to collaborate on this important initiative.” 

The Honourable Bardish Chagger
Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth and Member of Parliament for the Riding of Waterloo

“The overdose crisis has impacted countless neighbours, friends, families, and communities across Canada, including in Kitchener-Waterloo. I eagerly welcome this important project being implemented in our community to help support and protect the health and safety of our community members.” 

Raj Saini
Member of Parliament for Kitchener Centre

“We are so pleased with this announcement of the Safer Supply Program funding for our community. We are rallying together with our partners to respond to the toxic, powerful drugs that are taking over people's lives.”

Stephanie Mancini 
Coordinator, The Working Centre

“The Safer Supply Program is a wonderful addition to existing services, such as our Consumption and Treatment Site. This service is a sensible and pragmatic way to keep people alive.”

Dr. Chris Steingart 
Founder, Sanguen Health Centre
Lead Physician, Safer Supply Program

“The Inner City Health Alliance, a group of 6 agencies serving the homeless and those precariously housed, is bringing health and social services to people within Emergency Shelters, Housing, Encampments, and Congregate settings. These wrap around services respond to the unique needs and goals of people. Safer supply is a wonderful addition to our services.”

Gloria Jordan 
Strategic Consultant, Inner City Health Alliance

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 $26 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


Thierry Bélair
Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health

Media Relations
Health Canada

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