Funding for Addictions Prevention and Treatment Services in First Nations Communities across Canada

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Funding for Addictions Prevention and Treatment Services in First Nations Communities across Canada

by ahnationtalk on April 14, 2015719 Views

Government of Canada invests in supports and services to address prescription drug abuse

April 14, 2015 – Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan – Health Canada

The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health, today announced funding that will enhance access to addictions supports for prescription drug abuse (PDA) for First Nations living on-reserve across the country.

Prescription drug abuse is a significant public health and safety concern in North America. Drugs like opioids, sedative-hypnotics and stimulants are legal and have proven therapeutic benefits, but they also have a high potential for harms such as addiction, withdrawal, injury, and death. That is why the Government of Canada will invest $13.5 million over five years to enhance prevention and treatment capacity for prescription drug abuse within First Nations communities across Canada.

Saskatchewan First Nations and partners will receive more than $2.6 million of this funding, which will provide existing treatment centres with more money to tailor effective interventions and enhanced support for individuals struggling with prescription drug addiction. It will also fund prevention training activities for staff who treat individuals battling prescription drug addiction, and a prescription drug abuse crisis intervention team, that is, a group of PDA specialists, who can advise caregivers in treatment facilities on the best way to manage clients with severe PDA issues. The team will be co-ordinated through two regional hubs, one in Saskatchewan and one in Manitoba.

In Saskatchewan the crisis intervention team will be coordinated through the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan to support enhanced crisis management to First Nations. Prescription Drug Abuse experts will now be available to support First Nations in the development of work plans and approaches to address PDA in their community context and link them to additional services and supports. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan will establish a community of practice and a bank of knowledge and best practise information to enhance PDA approaches in Saskatchewan and across the country.

Following the announcement the Minister toured the All Nations Healing Hospital in Fort Qu’Appelle, one of Canada’s health facilities owned and operated by First Nations governments.

Quick Facts

  • In 2013, 22% of Canadians aged 15 and older reported using a psychoactive prescription drug. Of these, 2% (about 146, 000) reported abusing the drug for non-medical purposes.
  • Young people are using prescription drugs for non-medical reasons, and of those who do, many say they got them from the family medicine cabinet.
  • The 2014 Economic Action Plan committed over $44 million over five years to expand the focus of the National Anti-Drug Strategy from illicit drugs to address prescription drug abuse, including initiatives to educate Canadian consumers on the safe use, storage and disposal of prescription medications.
  • Minister Ambrose has met with several First Nations to discuss how we can work together to find culturally appropriate solutions and the new funding announced today is consistent with Health Canada’s Honouring our Strengths: A Renewed Framework to Address Substance Use Issues Among First Nations People in Canada. The funding will enable First Nations communities across Canada to further enhance existing services and their capacity to address prescription drug abuse issues.
  • The Government of Canada is investing more than $236 million annually to support mental health and addictions programming in First Nations and Inuit communities, including mental health promotion, addiction and suicide prevention, mental health counselling, addictions treatment, cultural supports, as well as crisis response services. Health Canada supports a network of 44 community-based addiction treatment centres, as well as drug and alcohol abuse prevention services in the majority of First Nations and Inuit communities.


“Our Government is committed to helping ensure the health and safety of all Canadian families, especially our children. We are working in partnership with First Nations leadership, medical professionals, and communities to tackle prescription drug abuse. Today, I am pleased to announce this new investment, which will provide First Nations facing prescription drug abuse issues in their communities with increased access to addictions support.”
The Honourable Rona Ambrose
Federal Minister of Health

“We appreciate the support of the federal government as we continue to seek ways to better meet the health care needs of our First Nations residents. This aligns with Saskatchewan’s goal of delivering more seamless, accessible and responsive health services.”
The Honourable Dustin Duncan
Saskatchewan Minister of Health

“This investment is another step toward improving the health and wellbeing of First Nations through a collaborative approach for better health outcomes.  We must take every opportunity to support healthier families with a needs-based patient first approach.”
Kimberly Jonathan
Interim Chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations

“The funding provided the Government of Canada is very welcome and, we are convinced, will make a difference in Saskatchewan. We look forward to partnering with other individuals and agencies to make that difference.”
Bryan Salte
Associate Registrar and Legal Counsel, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan

‘This announcement will assist First Nations in addressing the unique challenges that we face, including the need to develop grass roots approaches to addressing substance abuse.’
Marie-Anne Daywalker-Pelletier
Chief of the Okanese First Nation

Associated Links

National Native Alcohol and Addiction Program
Honour our Strengths
National Native Addictions Partnership Foundation
College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan
National Anti-Drug Strategy

– 30 –


Michael Bolkenius
Office of the Honourable Rona Ambrose
Federal Minister of Health
(613) 957-0200

Health Canada
Media Relations
(613) 957-2983

Public Inquiries:
(613) 957-2991
1-866 225-0709


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