Opioid epidemic response

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Opioid overdose crisis and COVID-19

As Canada responds to COVID-19, the country continues to experience a significant and concurrent opioid overdose crisis. It is having devastating impacts on individuals, families and communities, and disproportionally affecting specific regions and populations.

Since 2020, the opioid overdose crisis has worsened in Canada, in part due to:

Members of the Public Health Network (PHN) continue to support surveillance and targeted actions during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond that help people:

Special Advisory Committee on the Epidemic of Opioid Overdoses

In December 2016, the PHN activated a federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) Special Advisory Committee (SAC) on the Epidemic of Opioid Overdoses. Its focus is on urgent issues related to overdoses and deaths linked to the use of opioids.

The SAC has been a mechanism for public health collaboration and information sharing between jurisdictions focused on 3 key areas of the opioid overdose crisis:

  1. supporting harm reduction
  2. improving data and surveillance
  3. addressing prevention and treatment options

The SAC provides a mechanism to support the Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health. It helps deliver on its commitments in the Joint Statement of Action from the 2016 Opioid Summit, including:

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) works closely with provinces and territories to collect and publish national data on opioid and other substance-related harms. This includes deaths, which is a key commitment of the SAC. PHAC releases this data on behalf of the SAC every 3 months.

Substance Related Overdose and Mortality Surveillance Task Group

The Substance Related Overdose and Mortality Surveillance Task Group reports to the SAC. It was established in January 2017 on a time-limited basis to advance data and surveillance efforts.

It was initially mandated to generate and articulate a timely, national picture of public health impact of opioids in Canada. However, this task group has expanded surveillance efforts to capture other substances, such as stimulants, and reflect the polysubstance nature of the crisis.

Latest national products on the opioid overdose crisis

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