Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction

Federal Government’s Fall Economic Statement Addresses Opioid Crisis and Canadian Wellness amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

Ottawa, December 2, 2020 — The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) welcomes the federal government’s continued recognition of the importance of healthcare efforts to address substance use and addiction while dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the fall economic statement, the government acknowledged the impact of the pandemic both on the ongoing opioid crisis and the overall wellbeing of all people in Canada. Citing the rapid increase of opioid-related deaths in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia during the first 15 weeks of the pandemic compared to the previous 15 weeks, the government will provide an additional $66 million over two years starting in 2020–2021 to support community-based organizations responding to substance use issues, including help in providing frontline services in a COVID-19 context.

The government also pledged an additional $93 million in 2020–2021 to help improve Canadian wellness. $50 million will be used to bolster distress centres and $43 million will be used to provide further support for the Wellness Together Canada online portal and the resources it offers. The portal was developed to support Canadians’ mental health and wellness, which has been impacted by the pandemic.

“People who use or have used substances require the same level of attention and investment as those living with any other health issue,” states CCSA CEO Rita Notarandrea. “This federal investment demonstrates the needed commitment to bring about change and respond to the needs of people experiencing the harms of substance use and the people delivering services to them. This is a clear response to identified needs in the substance use field.”

CCSA prides itself on being an independent, neutral, non-partisan and trusted third-party expert on substance use and addiction. We work in partnerships with governments across the political spectrum to advance initiatives that reduce harms, improve wellness and increase community safety across Canada. COVID-19 has had devastating effects on all people in Canada impacted by substance use and we look forward to assisting the federal, provincial and territorial governments with our experience and expertise to help in and support these initiatives.

CCSA’s Impacts of COVID-19 on Substance Use resource hub provides information Canadians need and rely on. It contains resources from CCSA experts, but also focuses the spotlight on the innovative work being done throughout Canada and around the globe.

The pandemic has demonstrated that Canadians value and trust public health expertise. Properly supporting people who use or have used substances while promoting mental wellness and “whole health,” will be a defining feature of a progressive government as we all work together to build Canada back better and to help all people in Canada lead healthier, more productive lives.

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