Statement on Health Canada's Funding Announcement for Supervised Consumption Services

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Health Minister Ginette Petitpas-Taylor

The Canadian Association of People who Use Drugs (CAPUD) applauds the federal government for their courage to bypass hostile provincial governments and allowing municipalities and community organizations to apply directly to the federal government to open supervised consumption sites. People who use drugs face stigma and discrimination in their access to even the most essential, lifesaving healthcare services. Health Canada should be commended for standing up for the human rights of people who use drugs in this instance.

Supervised consumption services are absolutely crucial to fight the overdose epidemic killing eleven Canadians every day. In provinces like Ontario, where the Ford government has arbitrarily limited these services, this announcement is a lifeline for some of the province's most impacted communities. Health Canada has also changed regulations to allow health authorities and municipalities to apply for federal class exemptions to start overdose prevention programs in their jurisdictions. That means cities impacted by the overdose crisis can bypass provincial governments that do not support overdose prevention sites.

Health Canada has also made funding models more flexible, and that means SCS applications are not contingent on provincial funding, which can now come from other areas, including private donations, charities, and city governments.

Unfortunately the federal government has not gone far enough. Earlier this week Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam signaled that the federal government was ready to tackle the contaminated drug supply by "reviewing safer supply options" with the provinces. We understand that the federal government is in support of safe supply, but their support means very little when provincial governments refuse to fund and implement safe supply into existing overdose prevention and supervised consumption services.

The time for review and deliberation with the provinces was over a long time ago. We know the drug market is poisoned and contaminated. We implore the federal government to include funding for safer supply options along with their funding support for supervised consumption services.

Additional steps need to be taken by the federal government as well, including reducing the price of available injectable opioid drugs like heroin and hydromorphone.

To learn more about safe supply visit www.capud.ca/SafeSupply