Prior to the pandemic, we saw a worsening opioid epidemic that has devastated lives and communities across Canada, especially in Ontario and here in Waterloo Region. The COVID-19 pandemic has compounded the ongoing opioid overdose crisis in Canada. Isolation, stress, toxic supply, and reduced access to services have contributed to the epidemic. Canada suffered a 74 percent increase in opioid-related deaths over the course of the first six months of the pandemic. The government continues to work closely with provinces and territories to ensure our collective response is comprehensive, collaborative, compassionate, and evidence based. In response to the crisis, the government has made a variety of investments, including a $150 million Emergency Treatment Fund to provinces and territories for 2018-2021, over $100 million in 2019-20 for targeted measures to expand access to harm reduction services and increase access to safer drug supplies.
The government is taking further action to help people dealing with problematic substance use and tackle this ongoing crisis.
Budget 2021 proposes to:
- Provide an additional $116 million over two years, starting this year building on the $66 million invested in the 2020 Fall Economic Statement, for the Substance Use and Addictions Program to support a range of innovative approaches to harm reduction treatment and prevention at the community level.