Health Canada promises $21 million to support harm reduction

Dec 14, 2023

Earlier in October, a news release on the federal government’s website announced  that over $21 million in federal funding will be provided for 52 projects involved in harm reduction through Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program (SUAP). Specifically, the aim of the funding is to help community organizations increase access to services for individuals who use drugs and reduce substance-related harms.

“We recognize the tragic toll the overdose crisis and other substance use related harms are taking on families, friends and communities across Canada. Our comprehensive and compassionate approach is about reducing harms, and saving lives. We are supporting community organizations who have deep roots in their communities, have the trust of their clients and have the first-hand knowledge needed to make a real difference in people’s lives. We are using every tool at our disposal to end this crisis and build a safer, healthier and more caring future for all Canadians,“ said the Honourable Ya’ara Saks, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health in the news release.

In addition, according to the statement, investing in programs such as SUAP is a “key part” of the updated Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy released on the same day, and the federal government is implementing an integrated approach to address the overdose crisis and other substance use harms in Canada. Furthermore, the news release notes that supporting community-based organizations across the country helps reduce stigma and effectively meet the unique needs of the people in their local communities.

More than 38,514 people have died from opioid-related overdoses in Canada since 2016, according to data provided by the Canadian government, which corresponds to more deaths than from other, major accidental death causes combined. The latest data analyzed in 2023 shows that a total of 1,904 apparent opioid toxicity deaths occurred so far in 2023 over the period spanning January to March, averaging 21 deaths per day.