Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction


The substance use and addiction workforce provides important care for people who use or have used substances. Research helps us to understand better the challenges that the workforce faces and how it can be supported to provide the best possible care for people. The research section provides information on physician remuneration for care for patients with substance use disorders.

Family Physician Remuneration for Substance Use Disorders Care

People suffering with substance use disorders need complex medical and social care. Family physicians in Canada play a vital role in delivering this care and support. Like all staff who work in the substance use and addictions field, family physicians face many challenges. One of these challenges is caring for a chronic health condition while being fairly compensated for their time and expertise.


Health care in Canada is administered provincially, so remuneration for patient care varies among provinces and territories. Several methods of remuneration are currently used to compensate physicians for their work. Fee-for-service remuneration is the most common means of payment.

Fee-for-service remuneration and care for substance use disorders:

The type of payment model used by doctors shapes the care that patients receive. A CCSA study explored the experiences of family physicians using fee-for-service to remunerate them for caring for people with substance use disorders. The study found that:

  • Patients with substance use disorders require complex medical and social care.
  • The work of caring for patients with substance use disorders is invisible and not always billable.
  • Fee-for-service remuneration does not fully support care for substance use disorders.

Participants in the study suggested ways to improve care for people with substance use disorders.
Their recommendations included:

  • Introducing chronic disease management schemes for substance use disorders care;
  • Increasing the use of alternative or blended remuneration models; and
  • Promoting team-based primary care services and supports. For more information, see the full report, the report in short and the visual abstract.

For more information, see the full report, the report at a glance and the visual abstract.

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