Minister Bennett highlights Budget 2023 investments of $359.2 million to help address the overdose crisis and harms related to substance use across Canada

News release

Improving health outcomes for people at risk of substance-related harms and overdose across Atlantic Canada

April 11, 2023 | Halifax, Nova Scotia | Health Canada

Every day, families and communities across the country lose loved ones to overdoses from the increasingly toxic illegal drug supply.  Collectively, through harm reduction, treatment, services, as well as prevention efforts alongside all levels of government, the Government of Canada is working 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, highlighted Budget 2023’s proposed investment of just over $359 million to support a renewed Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy (CDSS), which will continue to guide the government's work to address the overdose crisis and broader substance use related harms.

The renewed strategy will continue to support a full continuum of evidence-based options for Canadians who need it, as well as new and innovative strategies, and provide support to access a range of health and social services, including treatment and recovery, for those who are ready.

In addition, Minister Bennett announced nearly $4 million in federal funding for 9 projects across the Atlantic region through Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program (SUAP). This funding will allow people living in the Atlantic region to access greater prevention, harm reduction and treatment services. This includes people disproportionately affected by substance use harms or who face barriers accessing services such as youth, Indigenous, and 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals.

We will continue to work with all levels of government, partners, Indigenous communities, stakeholders, people with lived and living experience, 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.


“We must do everything we can to ensure that people who use substances in Canada have access to the best possible supports, whenever and wherever they need them. We are investing in a renewed Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy to guide our government’s work to save lives and protect the health and safety of all Canadians. Thank you to all the organizations receiving funding today, and those working tirelessly across Canada to save lives.’’

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

“Youth in Canada experience untreated and preventable pain at times due to stigma and fear about opioid prescribing and use. Opioids can be an important part of proper pain management for youth, but currently evidence-based guidance is lacking. Solutions for Kids in Pain (SKIP), hosted at Dalhousie University and co-led by Children’s Healthcare Canada, is pleased to receive this funding to lead a nationwide initiative to improve the effective, safe, and equitable use of opioids for pain in youth in Canada. We are partnering with youth, caregivers, health professionals, decision-makers, and others to develop new resources, share information, build capacity, and launch a public awareness campaign focused on the medical use of opioids for pain management in youth.”

Dr. Katie Birnie, Associate
Scientific Director, SKIP; Adjunct Professor, Dalhousie University; Assistant Professor, University of Calgary

Dr. Christine Chambers
Scientific Director, SKIP; Professor, Dalhousie University

Quick facts

  • The latest data show that, between January and September 2022, opioid-related deaths and harms continued to persist at high levels, with 20 deaths per day, and 14 hospitalizations per day across Canada.

  • The projects announced today are funded through Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program (SUAP). 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.

  • Health Canada has invested over $400 million in over 380 SUAP projects since 2017. This investment includes over $100 million in funding for safer supply projects across Canada through the Substance Use and Addictions Program. This includes supporting a range of service delivery projects in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick, research/knowledge transfer and exchange projects.

  • In the past month, Minister Bennett has announced nearly $28 million in funding through the Substance Use and Addictions Program (SUAP) for 31 projects across Atlantic Canada, British Columbia, Ontario, the Prairies, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories. Those projects will help to improve health outcomes for people living with addiction and those at risk of substance-related harms and overdose.

  • 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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