Consultation on strengthening Canada’s approach to substance use issues

From: Health Canada

Current status: Closed

This consultation ran from September 5, 2018 to December 4, 2018. 

What We Heard: Strengthening Canada’s Approach to Substance Use Issues summarizes the feedback received through the consultation.

The purpose of this consultation was to ask Canadians for new and innovative ideas on how to further strengthen the federal government’s health-focussed approach to substance use issues through the Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy (CDSS).

In September 2018, Health Canada published an online questionnaire to seek input from Canadians on possible next steps on the CDSS. This was supported by background information on Canada’s approach to substance use issues.

As part of the consultation, participants were also invited to anonymously share their stories of how substance use has affected their life or the lives of people they know.

Who was the focus of the consultation

This consultation was open to all Canadians, and everyone was invited to share their ideas. In addition, Health Canada wanted to hear from:

  • people with lived and living experience with substance use, including those in recovery
  • Indigenous peoples, organizations, communities and leadership
  • substance use healthcare professionals and service providers
  • experts in substance use prevention, treatment, harm reduction and drug regulation/enforcement
  • civil society and community groups working in areas related to substance use, or social determinants of substance use
  • substance use researchers and academics

Goals of the consultation

The goal of the consultation was to gather input that could be used to update the CDSS to more effectively and compassionately address substance use in Canada. The use of substances (including drugs, alcohol, and the problematic use of prescription drugs) is an ongoing public health and safety concern in Canada. While many people in Canada use substances without significant harms, these substances can have negative impacts on the health and well-being of Canadians and their communities when used problematically.

Key areas for discussion

The online questionnaire sought input on the following topics to help us improve the CDSS:

  • taking action on the root causes of problematic substance use
  • better addressing the needs of Canadians living with pain
  • reducing stigma around substance use
  • improving access to comprehensive, evidence-based treatment services
  • innovative approaches to harm reduction
  • applying a health lens to regulation and enforcement activities
  • supporting Indigenous peoples
  • addressing the needs of at-risk populations
  • grounding substance use policy in evidence

Related information

Contact us

CDSS Secretariat
150 Tunney’s Pasture Driveway, Tunney’s Pasture AL 0302A
Ottawa, ON K1A 0K9


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