Federal government allots $1.8 million for harm reduction in Hamilton

Nov 3, 2023

According to a news release published earlier in September on the Government of Canada website, the federal government will provide funding totaling $1.8 million for three projects in Hamilton through Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program (SUAP). Moreover, the website states that this funding is aimed at increasing access to services for individuals suffering from drug addiction, as well as to help improve health outcomes for people who are at risk of experiencing substance-related harms.

In addition, 1.2 million of the funding will be spent at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton on the measurement-based care (MBC) initiative. In his interview with Global News, Dr. James MacKillop, professor at McMaster University’s Psychiatry & Behavioural Neurosciences department, said MBC has been used for several years at St. Joseph’s and has helped to improve diagnoses through course corrections during patient programs. “This approach has been widely used for depression and anxiety, and is indeed adopted nationally in the United Kingdom,” Dr. MacKillop said. “But has been scarcely applied to substance use disorders and is starting now here at St Joseph’s Healthcare.”

“This SUAP funding is a critical catalyst to accelerate the availability and adoption of important treatments innovations for individuals suffering from substance use disorders. There are no ‘silver bullets’ when it comes to addiction, but great progress has been made in developing evidence-based strategies and expanding access and infrastructure also expands the number of people who are likely to achieve recovery,” he added.

 Furthermore, $287,000 of the funding will fund additional harm reduction outreach workers and a peer support services worker to meet the increasing need for connecting patients with health and social services, while about $311,000 will be added to an earlier commitment of $875,000 to fund safe drug supplies.

It will also support the AIDS network in providing pharmaceutical-grade medication as an alternative to the toxic illegal drug supply,” said Ya’ara Saks, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health in the news release.

The latest data released by the city of Hamilton, opioid-related overdose calls in Hamilton have continued to increase in the second quarter of 2023.

Between April 1 and June 30, there were 257 paramedic calls related to suspected opioid overdose incidents, which corresponds to an increase of 81 calls compared with the same period in 2022, equaling to around 19 opioid-related paramedic calls per week or 2.8 calls per day. In addition, there were 98 drug-related incidents in June, which is the highest number of incidents since September 2021, when 103 incidents were recorded.