Life-saving initiative will provide pharmaceutical-grade medication as alternative to toxic illegal drug supply during COVID-19 pandemic and beyond
June 11, 2021 | Ottawa, Ontario | Health Canada
The overdose crisis continues to affect communities and families across Canada. Tragically, we have seen substantial increases in overdose deaths and related harms during the COVID-19 pandemic, including in Ontario where overdoses deaths increased significantly since the onset of the pandemic. The Government of Canada continues to support increasing access to safer supply projects in communities across Canada to help prevent drug overdoses during the pandemic and beyond.
Today, on behalf of the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, the Honourable Mona Fortier, Minister of Middle Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance announced an additional $4.4 million to support Pathway to Recovery’s project, Safer Supply Ottawa. With this new funding, the project will run until 2023 and will serve an additional 200 people. Their innovative project uses a pharmaceutical alternative to the toxic illegal drug supply, provided as a daily-prescribed medication. Safer supply prevents overdoses and allows project participants to check-in regularly with a healthcare professional.
With this additional funding, Pathways to Recovery can reach a broader group of people who use drugs by offering medication in more accessible and flexible ways. By working with local pharmacies, community health centres and Ottawa Inner City Health, Pathways to Recovery will expand their services at five sites in Ottawa to help approximately 450 people at risk of overdose. This initiative will also connect patients with essential health and social services, including treatment, which may be more difficult to access during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Government of Canada continues to work with all levels of government, partners, stakeholders, people who use drugs and people with lived and living experience and organizations in communities across the country to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and the overdose crisis.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has made it more difficult for people who use substances to get support. To reach those most at risk, we have to meet them where they’re at. Working together with community organizations in Ontario and across the country, we can better serve people who use drugs by providing more access to supports and treatment.”
The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health
“We have tragically lost too many people in Ottawa-Vanier and across the country to overdoses. Our government is proud to extend support to the Safer Supply Ottawa project so that it can reach even more people at risk of overdose and connect them with the lifesaving care and services they need.”
The Honourable Mona Fortier
Minister of Middle Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance and Member of Parliament for Ottawa-Vanier
“In response to the ongoing toxic illegal drug supply, Safer Supply Ottawa Partners (Pathways to Recovery, Recovery Care, Ottawa Inner City Health, Respect RX Pharmacy, Somerset West Community Health Centre, Sandy Hill Community Health Centre, and Ottawa Public Health) continue to work to expand access to safer supply programming in the community. Expanding current services, safer supply initiatives seek to decrease the risk of accidental overdose and improve health by providing access to prescribed pharmaceutical opioids and further connect people who use drugs to integrated, wrap-around health, social and treatment services.”
Project Manager, Safer Supply Ottawa
- Today’s announcement of additional funding to extend Pathways to Recovery’s Safer Supply Ottawa project until 2023 brings the total federal funding to approximately $5.8 million.
- To further help people dealing with problematic substance use and respond to the ongoing overdose crisis, the Government recently announced in Budget 2021 an additional $116 million for the Substance Use and Addictions Program. The funding would support a range of innovative approaches to harm reduction, treatment, and prevention at the community level.
- This builds on $66 million invested in the 2020 Fall Economic Statement for community-based organizations responding to substance use issues, including helping them provide frontline services in a COVID-19 context. The project announced today is funded from this commitment.
- To date, the Government of Canada has committed more than $25 million in funding for Ontario safer supply projects to help save lives.
- Early findings from Canadian evidence show that providing medications as an alternative to highly toxic illegal drugs for people at risk of overdose can help save lives and improve health outcomes. It can also help establish an entry to primary care and treatment for people with substance use disorder.
- The project announced today is funded through Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program—a federal grants and contributions program that provides financial support to provinces, territories and non-governmental and Indigenous organizations to strengthen responses to drug and substance use issues in Canada.
Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health