Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction

CCSA Applauds Investments in Wellness, Addressing Social Determinants of Health in 2021 Federal Budget

Ottawa, April 20, 2021 — The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) strongly supports investing in the wellness of Canadians and addressing the social determinants of health, as outlined in yesterday’s federal budget.

The budget, called A Recovery Plan for Jobs, Growth, and Resilience, includes $45 million over two years to Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to develop national mental health services standards. These standards for mental health and substance use will help to ensure people in Canada can access quality services in a timely way, meeting the same expectations that we have for all components of health care.

A $116 million investment over two years, starting in 2021–2022, is dedicated to the Substance Use and Addictions Program. This investment is in addition to $66 million that was invested in the program in the 2020 Fall Economic Statement.

“As we have witnessed across our country, the COVID-19 pandemic is compounding the opioid epidemic in Canada,” explains CCSA CEO, Rita Notarandrea. “Toxic supply, reduced access to services and other elements have been exacerbated by the pandemic. The value of increased funding to support people with substance use and addiction is significant, People need services and supports and this funding program can support the implementation of programs to meet the most pressing needs affecting people in Canada, including the ongoing opioid overdose epidemic.”

CCSA has been closely monitoring the impacts of COVID-19 on substance use and addiction patterns. Since the fall of 2020, 30% of people who use alcohol and 35% of people who use cannabis report using more during the pandemic, according to Leger polls conducted by CCSA and the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

The government’s pledge of $62 million to Health Canada for the Wellness Together Canada Portal will allow the continued provision of tools and services to support the well-being of Canadians. The portal helps reduce barriers to accessing care for mental health and substance use at the national level and increases access to much needed and tailored health care through virtual services.

The government also outlined many financial commitments aimed at addressing the social determinants of health. Investments in housing, equity, employment and mental health are important components of a comprehensive approach to reducing the impacts of substance use. In 2017, substance use cost Canadians nearly $46 billion, led to over 275,000 hospitalizations and contributed to the loss of nearly 75,000 lives.

“Investing in the wellness of all people in Canada right now is imperative. We know that COVID is putting more people at risk of harms associated with substance use,” emphasizes Notarandrea. “The fact the federal government is recognizing the significant impact these factors can have on people in Canada and most especially on marginalized population is not only welcome but encouraging.”

CCSA prides itself on being an independent, neutral, non-partisan and trusted third-party expert on substance use and addiction. With the announcements made yesterday, we look forward to continuing to work with Health Canada on the Wellness Together Canada Portal and other initiatives that reduce harms for people impacted by substance use.

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