Government of Canada announces more than $20 million to help address harms related to substance use in B.C and the Prairies

News release

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

July 6, 2023 | Squamish, British Columbia | Health Canada

Every day, families and communities across the country lose loved ones to the toxic drug and overdose crisis, with 140 people losing their lives per week in Canada – all beloved parents, neighbors, friends, and colleagues. The Government of Canada is committed to working with our partners to reverse this crisis, save lives, and ensure all people who use drugs have access to a full continuum of evidence-based, trauma-informed, and culturally appropriate substance use supports, when and where they need them.

Today, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, alongside Patrick Weiler, Member of Parliament for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country, announced more than $20 million in federal funding for 42 projects across British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan through Health Canada's Substance Use and Addictions Program (SUAP). These projects support greater access to prevention, harm reduction and treatment services for people who use drugs, including those disproportionately affected by substance use harms or who face barriers accessing services like youth, Indigenous, and 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals.

Today's investment builds on the historic announcement the Government of Canada made in February of nearly $200 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, Indigenous communities, community workers, healthcare professionals, stakeholders, people with lived and living experience, and organizations across the country to save lives, and reverse this national public health crisis.


"The toxic drug and overdose crisis in Canada, resulting from an increasingly toxic illegal drug supply is heartbreaking for family members, friends, colleagues, and neighbors across Canada. As we mourn those we have tragically lost, we must also commit to working together to further reduce the stigma around substance use and support communities in their efforts to reduce harms and save lives. Thank you to Squamish Helping Hands Society, as well as to all the organizations that received funding today, for their continued dedication towards inspiring change within our communities."

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

"Everyone deserves respect and dignity in their life. That's why we are working together in Squamish and the Sea to Sky Region to build pathways for accessible care for the people who need it the most. Through SUAP's support, we will provide critical pain management and primary, preventative and follow-up care to the Squamish community."

Lori Pyne
Executive Director, Squamish Helping Hands Society

"As British Columbia grapples with a tragic toxic drug and overdose crisis, too many people face barriers when seeking prevention, harm reduction, and treatment services. Organizations like Squamish Helping Hands Society and Sea to Sky Community Services provide lifesaving services to those that are living with substance use challenges. Our government is committed to supporting projects like these that are critical to prevent the worst impacts from this crisis. The funding announced will make a significant, positive difference to those in the Sea to Sky, across BC, and the Prairies so they can get the care they need and deserve."

Patrick Weiler
Member of Parliament for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country

Quick Facts

  • The Government of Canada continues to work closely with partners to provide a compassionate and evidence-based response to the overdose crisis and broader substance use related harms.
  • 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, more than $495 million has been committed through Health Canada's Substance Use and Addiction Program to more than 380 projects 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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