Statement from the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health on the Overdose Crisis
September 28, 2022 | Ottawa, ON | Public Health Agency of Canada
Today’s national data release on opioid- and stimulant- related harms paints a tragic and serious picture of how the overdose crisis, and the increasingly toxic illegal drug supply, continues to devastate families and communities across Canada.
The numbers remain heartbreakingly high for deaths, people needing hospitalization, or needing emergency services and we must continue to take every action we can to address this complex public health crisis and save lives. It has reached a point in Canada, where it is clear that almost every one has been, or knows someone who has been, impacted by this crisis. We must approach this issue comprehensively, with a wide-range of public health prevention, harm reduction and treatment efforts.
Our government recognizes that people who use drugs, especially those struggling with addiction, face discrimination and barriers to getting help. Stigma around drug use can cause a person to hide their drug use or use alone. Stigma discourages people from seeking health and social services, which adversely affects their health and quality of life.
Since 2017, we have invested $815 million to address the overdose crisis and implemented a wide range of actions to save lives, help reduce the stigma surrounding substance use, and meet the diverse needs of people who use substances. This includes funding for community organizations, supervised consumption sites, safer supply projects, public education campaigns, and increased access to evidence-based treatment and life-saving services.
In addition, as part of our ongoing public education efforts, our government has launched a new campaign aimed at men working in trades, who are more impacted by substance use and addiction than any other industry, to reduce the stigma around asking for help. The “Ease the Burden Campaign” provides free substance use resources and supports and shares the message that while asking for help takes strength – it can make a world of difference for people who use drugs and their loved ones.
Substance use harms are prominent public health issues that extend beyond borders. A recent joint white paper published by Canada and the United-States underscores the seriousness of substance-related harms that we saw during the pandemic in both countries, and the approaches taken to respond to the challenges of the toxic illegal drug supply and overdose public health crisis.
Our government will continue to implement a wide range of actions and collaborate with stakeholders, those with lived and living experience, and partners, both across the country and internationally, to reduce the harms associated with substance use and to make sure Canadians are getting the culturally appropriate and trauma-informed support they need.
Together, we will address this complex public health crisis with multifaceted solutions to save lives and spare families and communities across the country from the heartbreak of losing a beloved child, parent, friend, or neighbor to overdose.
The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, P.C., M.P.
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health
Public Health Agency of Canada
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