Helping communities prevent and reduce substance use-related harms among youth

News release

June 26, 2024 | Glace Bay, Nova Scotia | Public Health Agency of Canada

No community in Canada has been left untouched by substance use-related harms and the toxic illegal drug supply and overdose crisis. Efforts to prevent substance use, especially among youth, are critical and this means reaching out to young people who may be struggling with targeted support in their communities.

Today, the Honourable Ya'ara Saks, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, announced more than $3.1 million under the Youth Substance Use Prevention Program (YSUPP) to reduce substance use-related harms among young people in communities across Canada.

This investment includes $868,000 in funding for seven projects across British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Nova Scotia to support the Canadian implementation and adaptation of the Icelandic Prevention Model (IPM). This model, which is recognized internationally for its collaborative approach to preventing substance use harms among youth, applies a community-driven approach to address the root causes of substance use. The projects will engage with diverse communities and sectors, including Indigenous, schools, service providers, community leaders and young people with lived and living experience, and will contribute to the evaluation of the IPM in the Canadian context.

In addition, Renison University College (affiliated with the University of Waterloo) will receive $2.25 million in funding to lead a new Knowledge Development and Exchange Hub for Youth Substance Use Prevention. The Hub will provide guidance and training on the implementation of the IPM in Canada, lead a pan-Canadian youth substance use prevention community of practice, as well as activities to support the sharing of information and best practices among projects.

Preventing and decreasing youth substance use through YSUPP is a key part of the Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy. Critical work continues with all levels of government, partners, Indigenous communities, stakeholders, people with lived and living experience, and local organizations to reduce substance use-related harms, make sure people have the support they need, and ultimately save lives.


"We are working to address the root causes of substance use among youth and prevent harms before they begin. We know that connection to community supports helps to decrease and even prevent substance use-related harms. We owe it to young people – and all Canadians – to ensure there is equitable access to the mental health and substance use services that people need and these organizations will make a real difference for youth in their communities."

The Honourable Ya'ara Saks
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health

“Our youth represent the lifeblood of our communities and are the future of Cape Breton Island. We are extremely proud to be supporting programs to reduce substance use harms among our young people. This investment includes over $120,000 for our own Undercurrent Youth Society — meaning that this money will go directly toward benefitting youth in Glace Bay and New Waterford. Our government is proud be working with community partners to bring a brighter future for the youth of Cape Breton.”

Mike Kelloway
Member of Parliament for Cape Breton—Canso

"At Planet Youth, we are honored to collaborate with our project partners under the Youth Substance Use Prevention Program. The Icelandic Prevention Model's strength lies in its adaptability to diverse contexts and cultures. We look forward to working with our Canadian partners to tailor the model to the unique Canadian context."

Dr. Pall Rikhardsson
CEO of Planet Youth

"We are delighted that the KDE Hub, located at Renison University College, has been selected by the Public Health Agency of Canada, to support the implementation of the Icelandic Prevention Model in Canada. Established in 2019, the Hub team has supported over 60 mental health projects spanning coast to coast to coast. This new funding initiative will extend the capacity of communities to support their youth in meaningful and healthy ways."

Dr. Wendy Fletcher
President and Vice-Chancellor, Renison University College

"This infusion of funding for the Icelandic Prevention Model in Glace Bay and New Waterford will bolster community resilience by equipping our children and youth with effective strategies, vital resources and support systems to navigate the current challenges they face, ultimately aligning with our mission to inspire hope and foster a brighter future in the lives of thousands of children and youth in Cape Breton."

Trevor Denhartogh
Interim Executive Director, Undercurrent Youth Centres

"The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit is thrilled to receive funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada's Youth Substance Use Prevention Program. The grant will be a catalyst to engage community partners, parents and young people in the Icelandic Prevention Model. This collaboration will have a meaningful and long-term impact on the health and well-being of young people in Haldimand and Norfolk."

Syed Shah
Public Health Director, The Haldimand-Norfolk Health

"In our work in northern BC, we have heard youth share dreams and ideas for inclusive community spaces and opportunities that support their wellness, and build a sense of belonging and connection. One youth shared that "in a perfect world, everyone's safe space is their home – when this isn't available youth need a "home base" with safe people to connect with." Our hope is that every community in northern BC can be that safe space where youth grow, learn, and thrive. We are very excited about implementing the Icelandic Prevention Model in northern BC to work together with youth and community partners to secure a bright future for youth."

Chantelle Wilson
Executive Lead, Child and Youth Service Network, Northern Health

"Substance use harms, in particular the opioids crisis, is one of the most vexing issues of our time for our community of Peterborough. Community collaboration through this important new grant will allow us to advance a more effective response to preventing youth substance use harms and improve health."

Dr. Thomas Piggott
Medical Officer of Health and CEO, Peterborough Public Health

Quick facts

  • The Government of Canada has committed over $1 billion since 2017 to increase access to evidence-based treatment and harm reduction services; fund awareness, prevention, and stigma reduction activities; and support research and surveillance initiatives to inform our response.

  • Through new investments announced in Budget 2023, the Government of Canada is also investing over $359 million, over five years, to support a renewed Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy, which will continue to guide the Government's work to protect the health and safety of Canadians. This includes $144 million to the Substance Use and Addictions Program to fund community-based support and other evidence-based health interventions.

  • Budget 2024 proposes to provide $150 million over three years, starting in 2024-25, to Health Canada for an Emergency Treatment Fund, open to municipalities and Indigenous communities to help provide rapid responses to emergent, critical needs related to the opioid crisis.

  • The seven funding recipients receiving grants were approved applicants from the open call for proposals under the Public Health Agency of Canada's Youth Substance Use Prevention Program.

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Yuval Daniel
Press Secretary and Senior Communications Advisor
Office of the Honourable Ya'ara Saks
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health

Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada

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