Federal M.P. Catherine McKenna to continue to work with local health organizations and community groups to address opioid crisis in Ottawa
July 23, 2019 — Ottawa
Today, Catherine McKenna, Member of Parliament for Ottawa Centre, said she plans to continue to prioritize working with local health organizations to address the opioid crisis in Ottawa. The commitment follows an announcement last week by the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health, that the federal government will invest up to an additional $76.2 million to address the opioid crisis and problematic substance use.
McKenna said she will work with Ottawa Public Health, local health organizations, and community groups to support their efforts to meet the need for harm reduction services and help connect people to health and social services. McKenna’s commitment comes after the federal government stepped in last month to provide $600,000, or about six months funding, for one of Ottawa’s supervised injection sites.
The federal government has launched two calls for proposals: approximately $50 million for initiatives through Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program and approximately $3.5 million through the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Pathways to Care.
The new funding brings the total recent federal government investment to more than $100 million, including $30.5 million from Budget 2019. These investments include:
• $41.8 million to scale up key life-saving measures in underserved communities,
• $33.6 million to mitigate the impacts of the illegal drug supply, and
• $31.3 million to identify and address emerging drug threats, and the growing use of methamphetamines.
“I am committed to ensuring community health organizations like the Somerset West Community Health Centre and Clarence Street Supervised Injection Site have the funding they need to help fight the opioid crisis and deal with other emerging substance issues. Supporting and saving the lives of people with addictions means we are supporting and saving a son or daughter, maybe a mother or father, but certainly someone’s family member.”
The Honourable Catherine McKenna
Member of Parliament for Ottawa Centre and Minister of Environment and Climate Change
“Consumption and treatment services are vital in combating the city’s overdose epidemic,” said Naini Cloutier, executive director of Somerset West Community Health Centre. “Consumption and treatment services help reduce overdose deaths and emergency room visits, and increase access to health services.”
Ms. Naini Cloutier
Executive Director, Somerset West Community Health Centre
“Opioids are easy to get, highly addictive, and potentially fatal. So when somebody who is using opioids is ready to get help, help needs to be there. The federal government’s investments to address the opioid crisis and problematic substance use have the potential to accelerate the collaborative work already underway in Ottawa to ensure that the right help – based on research and informed by people with lived experience – is there for more people whenever and wherever they need it.”
President and CEO, The Royal
“It should never be a question of, “Do I think this person deserves help or not?” but only a question of, “Is it possible to help this person?” And where drugs are concerned, the answer is always yes, it is possible; whether by rehabilitation, harm reduction, decriminalization, or a great many other things in between, it is possible and we should be doing it.”
Carleton University Masters of Sociology student
Somerset West Community Health Centre
Somerset West Community Health Centre (SWCHC) has been operating in the Centretown area since 1972. SWCHC provides primary health care and social services that influence health such as housing, food security, employment and civic engagement.
One of SWCHC’s long-standing service areas is harm reduction, which has been operating for more than 20 years. The Consumption and Treatment Service has been a recent addition to these services.
• Today’s announcement builds on Budget 2019, which committed $30.5 million over five years, with $1 million ongoing, to expand access to safer alternatives to the illegal drug supply and support better access to opioid overdose response training and naloxone in underserved communities.
• The latest national data indicates that 11,577 apparent opioid-related deaths occurred between January 2016 and December 2018.
• According to ‘Supervised Consumption Site Data’ from Ottawa Public Health, from January – March 2019, there were 20,433 visits in Ottawa for consumption and treatment services.
• Naloxone is proven to temporarily reverse opioid overdoses. The B.C. Centre for Disease Control estimated that from April 2016 to December 2017, 1,580 deaths were averted in B.C. alone because of take-home naloxone kits.
– 30 –
Office of Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health
Office of Catherine McKenna