Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction

Addressing the Opioid Crisis in Canada

On November 2016, the Honourable Dr. Jane Philpott, then federal Minister of Health, and the Honourable Dr. Eric Hoskins, then Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, signed the Joint Statement of Action to Address the Opioid Crisis in Canada. CCSA, working with the federal government, facilitates the sharing of information among opioid response partners to avoid duplication of efforts and encourage collaboration. In addition, in 2013, CCSA first drew attention to the harms being experienced from prescription drugs through the First Do No Harm collaboration.

Since then, many governments, regional health authorities, institutions, local health delivery organizations and healthcare providers have taken on initiatives to improve the prevention, treatment and harm reduction responses to opioid use, as well as contributed to the evidence base and national information sharing. These efforts represent both individual and collective action to respond to the opioid crisis in Canada.

U.S. – Canada Collaboration

U.S. – Canada Collaboration

CCSA, with support from the United States Embassy to Canada in Ottawa, has completed a program to share experiences and learnings from the United States with communities across Canada that are most affected by the opioid crisis. This program aims:

  • To impact policy development on both sides of the border;
  • To provide target audiences with information that can inform strategic planning to address the opioid crisis; and
  • foster collaborative relationships between Canada and the United States.

American experts participated on a panel at CCSA’s Issues of Substance conference in November 2017 to highlight the importance of data, monitoring and surveillance to ensuring a more comprehensive understanding of the crisis.

An expert forum in March 2018 enabled Canadian and U.S. panelists to compare and contrast approaches to respond to the opioid crisis across multiple streams of action. This event allowed participants to learn from each other’s successes and challenges to inform and prioritize future actions.

A six-city cross-Canada speaker series from April to September 2018 facilitated conversations at the community level about solutions to the opioid crisis. U.S. and Canadian experts tailored their presentations to correspond to the unique knowledge needs and experiences in different parts of Canada.

Our report, Strategies for Addressing the Opioid Crisis in the United Stated and Canada: Cross-Border Knowledge Sharing​, summarizes the learning exchanged from both sides of the border throughout the project and the actions that have resulted directly from this partnership.​

Pan-Canadian Collaborative
on Opioid Prescribing

Pan-Canadian Collaborative on Opioid Prescribing

CCSA supports a Pan-Canadian Collaborative on Improved Opioid Prescribing, which is chaired by the College of Family Physicians of Canada, to address the harms of prescription opioids. The collaborative offers expertise in leading practices and lessons learned when it comes to physician’s managing pain and treating addiction. The collaborative focuses on the sharing knowledge and translating evidence into practice.

In addition to CCSA, the members of the collaborative are:

Opioid Symposium 2018

Opioid Symposium 2018

In September 2018, CCSA, in partnership with Health Canada, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and the Globe and Mail, co-hosted an opioid symposium in Toronto to:

  • Place the voices of people with lived and living experience at the centre of the discussion to help end stigma;
  • Promote increased access to treatment for people who use drugs and people with chronic pain; and
  • Recognize the different aspects of the opioid crisis and discuss opportunities for collaboration.

Opioid Response Partners

Opioid Response Partners

Who is addressing the opioid crisis in Canada?

Many government and non-government organizations have made multiple commitments spanning the key areas of opioid-related research, prevention, treatment and harm reduction. These efforts represent both individual and collective action to respond to the opioid crisis in Canada.

Accreditation Canada

Association of Canadian Faculties of Dentistry

Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada

Association of Faculties of Pharmacy of Canada

British Columbia Centre on Substance Use

Canada Health Infoway

Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health

Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists

Canadian Association of Poison Control Centres

Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing

Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction

Canadian  Chiropractic Association

Canadian Council of Registered Nurse Regulators

Canadian  Dental Association

Canadian Dental Regulatory Authorities Federation

Canadian Institute  for Health Information

Canadian  Institutes of Health Research

Canadian  Medical Association

Canadian  Medical Protective Association

Canadian Nurses  Association

Canadian Pain Society

Canadian Patient Safety Institute

Canadian Pharmacists Association

Canadian Physiotherapy Association

Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

Chronic Pain Association of Canada

Collège des  médecins du Québec

College of Family  Physicians of Canada

College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario

College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia

Federation of  Canadian Municipalities

First Nations Health Authority

Health Canada

Health Quality Ontario


Institute for Safe Medication Practices Canada

Mental Health Commission of Canada

National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities

Nurse Practitioner Association of Canada

Ontario College of Family Physicians

Paramedic Chiefs of Canada

Public Health Agency of Canada

Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario

Royal College of Dentists of Canada

Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons


CIHR Projects

Canadian Institutes of Health Research Projects

CCSA has collaborated on a number of research projects funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and focused on synthesizing knowledge related to the opioid crisis. These projects aim:

  • To determine the effectiveness of psychosocial interventions in combination with opioid agonist therapy for treatment of persons with opioid use disorder and to establish a set of core outcomes for use in future research within this area of study with the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and Royal Ottawa Hospital Institute for Mental Health Research;
  • To determine the effectivness of prevention, treatment, harm reduction and enforcement strategies to prevent and reduce opioid-related harms with the Institute for Work and Health;
  • To understand the relationship between cannabis and opioid use and related benefits and harms with the Institute for Work and Health;
  • To understand community plans to reduce opioid harms developed in collaboration with different sectors with Public Health Ontario; and
  • To review the literature on e-health intervention to decrease opioid-related mortality with the University of British Columbia.

In addition, CCSA is also collaborating on a number of CIHR-funded projects focused on evaluating responses to the opioid crisis. These include:

  • Evaluating Ontario’s Rapid Access Addiction Medicine model of care led by the Royal Ottawa Hospital Institute for Mental Health Research;
  • Barriers and facilitators to buprenorphine use from the individual, provider, organization and system levels led by Public Health Ontario; and
  • Quantifying the treatment gap for those living with opioid use disorder and examining the system costs incurred from individuals who are not receiving treatment to inform system planning led by Public Health Ontario

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