Statement from the Minister of Health and the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health on International Overdose Awareness Day


August 31, 2022 | Ottawa, ON | Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada

Today is International Overdose Awareness Day - a day to remember those we have lost to substance use harms and to reflect on the damaging effects stigma has on those who use substances. It is also an opportunity to reinforce our efforts to save lives and address the many drivers of this crisis.

The overdose crisis and the toxic drug supply continue to have a devastating impact on people who use substances, their families and communities across Canada, affecting people from all walks of life. Our latest national data release showed that 2021 was our worst year on record, with about 21 people dying of opioid-related overdoses every single day in Canada. Each tragic death meant the loss of a beloved life – a child, a parent, a grandparent, or a friend.

Recognizing that overdoses are preventable, it is important for all of us to learn the signs of an overdose so you could help save a life.

Sadly, stigma and fear of judgement often cause people who use drugs to hide their use, use alone and avoid seeking help. For this reason, most people who die from an overdose die alone or at home. We all have a role in reducing the stigma around drug use so that people who use drugs or who are living with a drug addiction feel safe to ask for help.

Recent evidence shows that men have been disproportionally impacted by this crisis and that people working in physically demanding jobs, such as trades, are at higher risk of substance use-related harms, including overdose, than those working in other industries. That is why in June 2022, in addition to other prevention and education measures, our government launched a range of resources to specifically support men working in physically demanding jobs.

Along with this funding, our government has also taken action and made investments to address the overdose crisis, including safer supply programs, increased naloxone access, increased options for opioid agonist treatment, supervised consumption sites, and drug checking technologies.

Still more needs to be done to protect the health and safety of Canadians. We remain committed to reducing stigma and continuing to work with all levels of government, people with lived and living experience of substance use, stakeholders, and organizations in communities across Canada to help prevent overdose, save lives, and help all people in Canada live their healthiest lives.

Together we will end this tragic crisis so that no more families, friends, or communities will lose a loved one to a heartbreaking overdose.

The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, P.C., M.P.

The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, P.C., M.P.


Marie-France Proulx
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health

Maja Staka
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health

Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada

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