Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction

Rita Notarandrea to retire as CEO of the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA).

The Chair of CCSA’s Board of Directors, Vaughan Dowie makes the announcement and looks back on her remarkable career.

December 14, 2021

Dear colleagues,

As Chair of the Board of Directors for the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA), it is with mixed feelings that I share with you our Chief Executive Officer’s decision to retire after a long and remarkable career in the substance use, addictions and mental health sectors.

Rita Notarandrea began her important work at Ottawa’s psychiatric hospital, the Royal Ottawa Hospital, where she spent 21 years, 13 of them as the organization’s Chief Operating Officer. In 2006, she came to CCSA as Deputy CEO. She was appointed our CEO in 2015.

Rita has taken CCSA on an incredible journey during her seven years as CEO. Under her leadership, CCSA doubled in size and greatly expanded its reach. It has thrived as an organization committed to and respected for its timely evidence-informed advice and guidance, as well as for being a catalyst in bringing a multitude of stakeholders together to problem solve and share best practices. Rita has always been guided by her belief that the best and most impactful work is done in partnership.

By ensuring CCSA’s seat at the national, federal and provincial health tables, she brought attention to substance use and addiction issues, including the inequities in our system of care for people who use drugs and the stigma and barriers they experience in seeking and receiving treatment. She has been a relentless champion for standards of care. She has been called upon to provide expertise in the development of international standards for the treatment of substance use disorders and, more recently, to co-chair the development of mental health and addiction standards in Canada.

Rita is particularly proud of the relationships she fostered from early in her tenure, especially those with people who have lived and living experience with substance use and their families. She has worked hard at ensuring the credo “nothing about us, without us” is woven into CCSA’s culture and its projects and activities. Her biggest hope is to see the same access to treatment for mental health and substance use health as is available for physical health. With a new federal minister of Mental Health and Addictions, she is hopeful that we are a step closer to taking that ground-breaking step.  

Over the years, we have come to greatly appreciate Rita’s compassion and respect for others, her strong ethics, and her unfailing dedication to CCSA, its employees and partners. We will also very much miss her endless energy and wonderful sense of humour!

On behalf of the Board of Directors, I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Rita for her invaluable contribution over many years of service. We congratulate her on a well-deserved retirement and wish her only the very best as she embarks on this next journey. Rita, you have left your mark!

With Rita’s agreement, her retirement will be effective once a new CEO is identified.


Vaughan Dowie, Chair
Board of Directors, CCSA

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