November 13, 2018

The Governments of Canada and Saskatchewan Improve Access to Treatment for People with Substance Use Disorders

The opioid crisis continues to devastate individuals, families and communities across the country.  Without increased access to effective, evidence-based treatment options, people with substance use disorder will continue to be at risk for overdose.

Today, Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health and Saskatchewan Health Minister Jim Reiter, signed a bilateral agreement under the Government of Canada’s Emergency Treatment Fund.

“Opioid-related overdoses continue to claim the lives of thousands of Canadians, having a devastating impact across Canada,” said Taylor.  “In addition, Saskatchewan has rising rates of problematic methamphetamine use.  This bilateral agreement will facilitate and increase access to essential treatment services in the province to help people with problematic substance use.  We must continue to work in a comprehensive and collaborative way to address substance use disorder and to help Canadians access treatment and supports.”

“We believe that even one opioid related death is too many,” Reiter said.  “Our government has been taking action on this issue by supporting harm reduction, opioid substitution therapy, and expanding take home naloxone programs across the province.  We will continue to assess the location and type of services in our province to ensure they are comprehensive and minimize the risks associated with drug use.  The Emergency Treatment Fund will allow us to build on the good work already happening in Saskatchewan.”

This agreement provides more than $5 million in funding from the Government of Canada to support initiatives that will:

  • Recruit and train more health care professionals qualified to provide opioid-substitution therapy (including nurse practitioners and physicians) and other non-prescribing professionals (such as counsellors, social workers and allied professionals);
  • Train health care providers to adjust treatment and care plans based on client needs and root causes of problematic substance use (for example, the impact of trauma on the lives of people with substance use disorders);
  • Increase access to treatment for people with opioid or crystal meth dependency by working with the Saskatchewan Health Authority and community-based organizations to expand the use of remote services (such as telehealth) where services are not locally available and support case managers to connect clients to the health and social services they need; and
  • Train providers in therapeutic approaches and evidence-based treatment options for patients who use crystal meth (for example, behavioural therapy and motivational interviewing and trauma informed practices).

This matches $7.4 million the Province of Saskatchewan has already invested in expanding access to opioid substitution therapy.  While preventing overdoses remains vital, helping people with problematic substance use to access treatment will ultimately help them live healthier lives.