Opioid epidemic response
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- Opioid overdose crisis and COVID-19
- Special Advisory Committee on the Epidemic of Opioid Overdoses
- Substance Related Overdose and Mortality Surveillance Task Group
- Latest national products on the opioid overdose crisis
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:
- the increasingly toxic illegal drug supply
- heightened feelings of isolation, stress, anxiety and depression
- greater barriers in accessing health and social supports, including life-saving harm reduction and treatment services
Members of the Public Health Network (PHN) continue to support surveillance and targeted actions during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond that help people:
- who use substances
- live with addiction
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:
- supporting harm reduction
- improving data and surveillance
- 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:
- exchanging and disseminating best practices and lessons learned from jurisdictions addressing the opioid overdose crisis
- providing evidence-based public health advice to the PHN Council and Conference of FPT Deputy Ministers of Health
- supporting the establishment of key metrics for comparable data collection and national reporting across Canada
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
- Joint statement from the co-chairs of the Special Advisory Committee on the Epidemic of Opioid Overdoses: Latest modelling projections on opioid related deaths and national data on the overdose crisis (December 2021)
- Opioid- and stimulant-related harms in Canada (last updated September 2021)
- Public Health Agency of Canada reports, studies and surveys
- Canada's opioid overdose crisis
- Federal actions on opioids to date
- Provincial and territorial information
- Helping people who use substances during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Stigma around drug use
- Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction
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