The Honourable John Haggie, Minister of Health and Community Services, and the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, federal Minister of Health, announced the signing of a bilateral agreement under the Government of Canada’s new Emergency Treatment Fund yesterday at the health ministers meeting in Winnipeg.
This agreement will result in an investment of more than $4 million – $2.7 million from the province and $1.6 million from the Government of Canada in 2018-19 – to improve access to opioid dependency treatment in the province using multi-disciplinary teams, case managers, primary care providers and telemedicine. With this investment, the Governments of Newfoundland and Labrador and Canada hope to help close the significant gap in treatment services for people who are seeking help for substance use disorders.
The opioid crisis is affecting individuals, families and communities across the country. The number of overdoses and deaths caused by opioids, including fentanyl, has risen sharply and is getting worse. Nearly 4,000 Canadians lost their lives in 2017 because of apparent opioid-related overdoses. That is why the Governments of Newfoundland and Labrador and Canada continue to work in a collaborative and comprehensive manner to increase access to effective, evidence-based treatment options.
In Budget 2018, the Government of Canada committed $150 million to provide emergency funding to the provinces and territories to improve access to evidence-based treatment services. The Emergency Treatment Fund is cost-shared with the provinces and territories and the total investment will be close to $300 million once bilateral agreements are signed with each jurisdiction.
The Emergency Treatment Fund supports projects that:
- Build on and enhance existing treatment approaches;
- Encourage further implementation of innovative treatment solutions; and
- Enhance healthcare providers’ knowledge of best practices.
Details specific to each province and territory will be made public as bilateral agreements are signed.
This initiative delivers on commitments in The Way Forward to deliver better services and better outcomes for residents. The Way Forward outlines all actions the Provincial Government is taking to achieve a strong, diversified province with a high standard of living, and can be viewed at thewayforward.gov.nl.ca.
“Today’s agreement builds on the successful partnerships and initiatives we have already undertaken in Towards Recovery: The Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan for Newfoundland and Labrador and the provincial Opioid Action Plan. Funding will be used to develop a multi-disciplinary hub and spoke model for opioid dependence treatment. This means people will have greater access to supports in their own communities and receive the care and treatment needed to start on the road to recovery.”
Honourable John Haggie
Minister of Health and Community Services
“I am pleased that the agreement we signed under the Emergency Treatment Fund will help improve access to treatment for Canadians with problematic substance use living in Newfoundland and Labrador. Our government continues to take action to address the opioid crisis through our comprehensive and collaborative strategy. Today’s announcement puts us one step closer to providing treatment options to Canadians who want them.”
Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health
“In 2017, we saw a 34 per cent increase in the reported number of apparent opioid-related deaths across Canada, compared to 2016. The tragedy is that opioid overdose is now the leading cause of death for individuals between the ages of 30 and 39 years. Continued action is needed on a number of fronts to reverse the complex crisis behind this trend. Increasing access to treatment has a positive impact on survival rates and will help save lives.”
Dr. Theresa Tam
Chief Public Health Officer of Canada
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Health and Community Services
Office of Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health
Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada
New Model for Opioid Dependence Treatment in Newfoundland and Labrador
Opioid Action Plan
Drug use, overdose and death are happening in our communities. It is an issue that has brought together government, municipal leaders, community partners and health care providers to find effective ways to address it.
According to the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information (NLCHI), there were 18 apparent opioid-related deaths in 2016 our province. This rate increased to 33 deaths in 2017. Hospital admissions involving opioids also increased from 2016 to 2017 from 20 to 84.
The Provincial Government outlined Newfoundland and Labrador’s Opioid Action Plan at the national Opioid Conference and Summit in Ottawa in November 2016. Since then, the government has taken a number of actions to address the opioid crisis in Newfoundland and Labrador both through legislation, funding, and in partnership with stakeholders and grassroots community organizations:
- Safe prescribing course for health care professionals;
- Province-wide Naloxone take-home kit program;
- Naloxone community pop-up tents;
- Improved access to Suboxone as an alternative drug to methadone;
- Pharmacy Network; and,
Introduction and passage of prescription monitoring program legislation.
The new model for Opioid Dependence Treatment in Newfoundland and Labrador builds on the successful partnerships and initiatives in the Opioid Action Plan, specifically improving access to Suboxone.
Expanding treatment to rural areas
Four regional-based teams will be established to provide consultation and support to family physicians, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, and case managers who work directly with people in their communities who have opioid dependence.
A team will be located in each of the regional health authorities. Teams will provide rapid access to medication-assisted treatments, such as Suboxone. To ensure people receive this medication when they need it, telehealth will be available so transportation does not become a barrier to treatment. The centers will provide care as the person becomes stabilized on their medication and will then ensure ongoing care is provided within each region. If needed, people will have access to a case manager to support them in their recovery. This new model will help people access recovery supports and community services throughout the province, but will particularly increase access in rural areas.
This team-based regional model was established by the Opioid Dependence Treatment Working Group as a part of Towards Recovery: The Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan for Newfoundland and Labrador. The Working Group is comprised of community organizations, persons with lived experience, regional health authorities, health care providers (including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and mental health and addictions staff) and their regulatory bodies and professional associations.
Provincial Centre of Excellence
A Provincial Opioid Dependence Treatment Centre of Excellence for Opioid Dependence Treatment will be established in St. John’s.
It will be responsible for ensuring health care providers and community organizations have access to up to date information and research so they can provide the best possible care to people throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.