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Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy

30th Oct 2023 Government Submissions

October 30, 2023

Today, the federal government released their updated Canada Drug and Substances Strategy. The renewed CDSS is an all-substances, public health and public safety strategy. The strategy is an initiative in collaboration with over 15 federal government departments and agencies, with the goal to minimize substance-related harms for individuals, families, and communities.

The renewed strategy is focused on four key integrated priority areas for action, called foundational elements: prevention and education, substance use services and supports (treatment, harm reduction and recovery), evidence, and substance controls. Summaries of each below.

Minster Saks also announced more than $21 million in federal funding for 52 projects through Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program (SUAP).

The CDSS four pillars: 

Prevention and education

The goal of prevention and education initiatives is to increase awareness and knowledge about the effects and risks of substances, and to prevent, reduce or delay substance use harms. This includes addressing known risk factors that increase the likelihood of a harm due to substance use, and increasing protective factors that promote health and reduce the likelihood of harm.

To support this, we are investing in community-led programs to prevent substance use harms among youth, at risk and other marginalized populations and disproportionately impacted populations. We are also raising awareness of substance use harms and ways to reduce them, and the importance of reducing stigma, through public education, outreach activities and awareness campaigns. In addition, we will work with our partners to address the root causes of substance use harms, including housing, employment, and economic development.

Substance use services and supports (treatment, harm reduction and recovery)

The Government of Canada is playing a critical role by improving equitable access to substance use services through investments for provinces and territories to improve health care services for Canadians, such as funding to the Canada Health Transfer. In addition, the Substance Use and Addictions Program provides funding to other levels of government, community-led and not-for-profit organizations, for innovative evidence-based treatment, harm reduction, and recovery projects that focus on at risk and disproportionately impacted populations.

We will also improve equitable access through regulatory and legislative actions, such as introducing targeted amendments to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) that will create a new authorization process with clear public health and public safety regulatory requirements for organizations seeking to provide evidence-based, life saving services like Supervised Consumption Sites, Urgent Public Health Need Sites and Drug Checking Services.


Accurate, timely, and reliable data is essential to policy development and decision-making. The ongoing collection, analysis and reporting of data is critical to understanding the scope of the overdose crisis and broader substance use-related harms in Canada. As part of the renewed CDSS, we are building our capacity to collect, analyze and disseminate data in a timely manner, and conduct research to support equity informed, evidence-based decision making to address the overdose crisis and substance use harms.

Substance use services

We are focusing our efforts on authorizing activities with controlled substances and precursor chemicals for legitimate purposes, such as clinical trials or medical uses, while also giving law enforcement and border control authorities the tools that they need to enforce the laws that keep people living in Canada safe and address the harms of the illegal drug trade.

We are also working with law and border enforcement partners across the country to address the role of organized crime in the production, diversion and trafficking of toxic illegal drugs by supporting major drug enforcement operations both domestically and internationally and the dismantling of illegal drug labs. In addition, we are supporting law enforcement by offering training on stigma and piloting an overdose monitoring platform that will support frontline public safety and health response.

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