Government of Canada announces over $3 million to help address harms related to substance use in British Columbia 

News release

Improving health outcomes for people at risk of substance-related harms and overdose in British Columbia

March 17, 2023 | British Columbia | Health Canada

Every day, families and communities across British Columbia lose loved ones to overdoses from the increasingly toxic illegal drug supply. Collectively, through harm reduction and treatment services, as well as prevention efforts alongside all levels of government, the Government of Canada is working in tandem to try to reduce stigma, save lives, and ensure all people who use drugs have the life-saving substance use services and supports they need.

Today, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, announced over $3 million in federal funding for 3 projects in British Columbia through Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program (SUAP). The funding announced today will allow people living in British Columbia to access greater prevention, harm reduction and treatment services including access to safer supply programs. This includes people disproportionately affected by problematic substance use or who face barriers accessing services such as youth, equity-deserving, and 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals.

Today’s investment builds on the historic announcement the Government of Canada made in February of $198.6 billion over 10 years to improve health care services for Canadians, reduce surgical backlogs, support health workers, and improve integrated mental health and substance use services. We will continue to work with all levels of government, partners, Indigenous communities, stakeholders, people with lived and living experience of addiction, and organizations across the country to improve health outcomes for all Canadians, save lives, and work towards an end to this national public health crisis.


“Every day in British Columbia, and across Canada, family members, friends, colleagues, and neighbors from all walks of life endure the unspeakable loss of losing a loved one to overdose. We are committed to working with community-based organizations in addressing the increasingly toxic illegal drug supply and overdose crisis. Today’s funding will help people in accessing the life-saving substance use resources they need. I thank all the organizations receiving funding for their life-saving work and dedication to reducing stigma.”

The Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health

“SOWINS is excited to secure this two-year funding which will allow us to increase the number of days our Mobile Outreach Van is providing services throughout in the South Okanagan. Further, this funding will also assist us with an additional counsellor for SOWINS, with a focus on harm reduction, which centres on evidence-based and a client centred approach to support individuals with substance use.”

Liz Gomes
Acting Executive Director
South Okanagan Women in Need Society (SOWINS)

Quick facts

  • The Government of Canada continues to work closely with partners to provide a compassionate and evidence-based response to the crisis. 

  • The projects announced today are funded through Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program. Through SUAP, the Government of Canada 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 2017, Health Canada has invested over $350 million in over 300 projects since 2017. This investment includes over $88.3 in funding for safer supply projects in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick.

  • The initiatives announced today stretch across the continuum of care (prevention, harm reduction, treatment), and vary from community-based service delivery projects like drug checking, to national initiatives, like CATIE, Canada’s source for HIV and hepatitis C information.

  • Our government is committed to reducing the stigma associated with substance use so that Canadians feel safe asking for help. The latest data show that, between January and June 2022, opioid-related deaths and harms continued to persist at high levels, with 20 deaths per day, and 14 hospitalizations per day.

  • Since 2017, the Government of Canada has taken evidence-based action to address the overdose crisis and committed over $800 million, including $349 million through Health Canada's Substance Use and Addictions Program to support community-based treatment, harm reduction, prevention and stigma reduction activities, as well as legislative and regulatory action. 

  • Addiction is a treatable medical condition, not a choice, yet many people affected by addiction face stigma and feel shame. The language we use has a direct and deep impact on people around us. All Canadians, including media and health professionals, can reduce stigma by changing the words they use related to substance use and people who uses drugs.

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Maja Staka
Senior Communications Advisor and Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health

Media Relations
Health Canada

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