Federal Actions on Opioids – Overview

(As of June 2019)

This overview identifies the actions taken by the Government of Canada since early 2016 to address the opioid crisis. It also provides a national picture of the public health impact of opioids in Canada.

Increased access to treatment

  • Allowed the import of medications approved elsewhere for urgent public health needs
  • Facilitated methadone prescribing and use of medical heroin
  • Removed regulatory barriers to allow nurses to transport controlled substances
  • Increased opioid agonist therapy in federal correctional facilities
  • Enhanced the delivery of culturally appropriate substance use treatment and prevention services in First Nations and Inuit communities
  • Improving access to treatment services through an Emergency Treatment Fund for provinces and territories
  • Supporting the development of a national treatment guideline for injectable opioid agonist treatment
  • Funding pilot projects on injectable opioid agonist treatment
  • Supporting up to an additional 25 community based opioid agonist treatment sites in First Nations and Inuit communities
  • Funding Isuarsivik Inuit Nation to support reconstruction of their treatment centre

Increased access to harm reduction

Increased awareness and prevention

Decreased tainted drug supply

Increased evidence

Learn more at Canada.ca/Opioids

Opioid-Related Deaths in Canada

In response to this complex crisis, the Government of Canada is taking a comprehensive, collaborative and compassionate public health approach focused on:

  • Prevention
  • Treatment
  • Harm reduction
  • Enforcement

This approach is supported by a strong evidence base.

Going forward, we will continue to address the crisis by:

  • working to increase access to treatment;
  • supporting innovative approaches;
  • improving access to public health data;
  • intercepting illegal opioids at the border; and,
  • addressing stigma related to opioid use.

More than 11,500 lives were lost from January 2016 to December 2018

Map of Canada
Province/territory Rate per 100,000 populationFootnote d Number of deaths in 2018
Alberta 15.0 to 19.9 775
British ColumbiaFootnote a 20.0 and higher 1,525Footnote a
New Brunswick 0.0 to 4.9 27
Newfoundland and LabradorFootnote b 0.0 to 4.9 10Footnote b
Northwest Territories 0.0 to 4.9 2
Nova Scotia 5.0 to 9.9 57
NunavutFootnote d Suppressed Suppressed
Ontario 10.0 to 14.9 1,471
QuebecFootnote c 5.0 to 9.9 424Footnote c
Manitoba 0.0 to 4.9 62
SaskatchewanFootnote b 5.0 to 9.9 95Footnote b
Prince Edward IslandFootnote b 0.0 to 4.9 7Footnote b
YukonFootnote b 10.0 to 14.9 5Footnote b
Footnote a

Includes deaths related to all illicit drugs including, but not limited to, opioids.

Return to footnote a referrer

Footnote b

Includes deaths with completed investigations only.

Return to footnote b referrer

Footnote c

Available 2018 data includes unintentional deaths with ongoing investigations related to all illicit drugs including, but not limited to, opioids. Data for 2016 and 2017 (not shown) includes apparent opioid-related deaths with completed investigations only.

Return to footnote c referrer

Footnote d

Data may be suppressed in provinces or territories with low numbers of cases.

Return to footnote d referrer

The death rate per 100,000 population:

  • 12.0 in 2018
  • 11.2 in 2017
  • 8.4 in 2016

75% of accidental apparent opioid-related deaths in 2018 occurred among males

90% of deaths in 2018 were among young and middle aged adults, with those aged 30 to 39 particularly affected

Percent of accidental apparent opioid-related deaths involving fentanyl or fentanyl analogues:

  • 54% in 2016
  • 72% in 2017
  • 73% in 2018
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