Health Canada Launches National Call for Proposals for the Substance Use and Addictions Program

News release

Funding will help communities address the overdose crisis and problematic substance use

July 22, 2021 | Winnipeg, Manitoba | Health Canada

The opioid overdose crisis is a serious public health crisis that continues to affect families and communities across Canada. Tragically, the COVID-19 pandemic has compounded the ongoing overdose crisis, with many jurisdictions having reported record high rates of harms, including deaths, throughout 2020 and into 2021. The federal government continues to focus on providing communities across Canada with the support they need to improve the quality of life of people who use drugs and to protect and save lives.

In recognition of the communities and families that continue to grapple with the opioid overdose crisis, and increasing substance use amongst Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic, today, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, announced the launch of the 2021 national call for proposals (CFP) for Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program (SUAP). As part of the Budget 2021 investment of $116 million, Health Canada, through this call for proposal, is continuing to build up successful community-based programs that can help prevent, treat, and/or reduce the harms associated with opioids, stimulants, alcohol, prescription drugs, and other substances that have a high risk of problematic use.

These projects help improve health outcomes for Canadians who are at a higher risk of experiencing substance-related harms and overdose, or who may face barriers to accessing existing services. Projects that leverage the expertise of people with lived and living experience with substance use, and/or are able to reach priority populations in Canada, such as young and middle-aged men; Indigenous peoples and communities; people experiencing chronic pain; youth; LGBTQ2 individuals; and rural and remote communities, are particularly encouraged to apply for funding. Interested applicants are encouraged to submit project proposals intended to serve these communities. Applications will be accepted until September 24, 2021.

Problematic substance use and Canada’s opioid overdose crisis require collaboration from all levels of government, as well as partners, stakeholders, people with lived and living experience of substance use, and community organizations across the country. The federal government remains committed to a collaborative, comprehensive, compassionate, and evidence-based approach to addressing the worsening opioid overdose crisis and continues to build on actions taken to date.


“Through Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program and this call for proposals we are working with community-based organizations to provide much-needed support to those that need it, reducing harms and reducing deaths. These organizations are truly dedicated to improving the outcomes of this overdose crisis by using their expertise and experience to reach people that use substances, based on the unique needs of the people in their communities. I encourage partners across the country to apply.”

The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health  

Quick facts

  • The $116 million allocated through Budget 2021 builds on a $66 million investment from 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.

  • SUAP provides grants and contributions funding to other levels of government, as well as community-led and not-for-profit organizations to respond to current drug and substance use issues in Canada. 

  • Since SUAP was established in 2016, there have been 2 national calls for proposals (2017, 2019). These national calls for proposals, along with other targeted investments, have resulted in over 200 projects across Canada worth over $360 million.  

  • Prior to launching the 2021 CFP process, Health Canada held consultations with stakeholder groups such as, people with lived and living experience of substance use, provinces and territories, and the Canadian Pain Task Force, to determine its funding priorities.

  • Through the 2021 CFP, Health Canada will continue to provide support for community-led projects designed to: increasing the availability of harm reduction services related to substance use and the toxic illegal drug supply; enhancing prevention, health promotion, and early intervention awareness; broadening treatment and recovery options; and building the capacity for providing care for people who use drugs.

  • In addition to holding open CFP processes, Health Canada also funds SUAP projects through other mechanisms, such as targeted outreach processes and extensions of existing contribution agreements that have demonstrated results.

  • On average, 17 people died and 14 were hospitalized every day due to opioid-related harms in 2020. Tragically, the latest national data indicates that 2020 was the worst year for opioid-related deaths since the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) began monitoring the crisis in 2016. In order to help governments and public health organizations in all jurisdictions make decisions and steer actions to reduce the number of opioid-related deaths, PHAC released new modeling of opioid-related deaths through to December 31, 2021, under several scenarios.

Associated links


Thierry Bélair
Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health

Media Relations
Health Canada

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