Mental health issues are often intertwined with addictions and trauma. Premiers stand united in their commitment to addressing mental health and addictions issues, including problematic alcohol use and related harms. This includes increasing supports for programming, raising awareness and reducing the stigma associated with seeking treatment. Harms related to addictions – including opioids, alcohol and methamphetamines continue to have devastating impacts on families and communities across Canada. The opioid overdose epidemic caused by a toxic illegal drug supply continues to inflict tragic results, with over 3,200 Canadians losing their lives to opioid-related overdoses in 2018. Similarly, evidence suggests the use of methamphetamines is on the rise across the country, leading to a significant increase in adverse outcomes. Alcohol continues to be the substance that accounts for the majority of drug-related deaths and hospitalizations in Canada.
Provinces and territories continue to provide supports and programs to respond to mental health and addictions challenges within their own communities. To reduce stigma and to learn from each other, Premiers agreed to hold a provincial and territorial symposium on mental health and substance use with the aim to further spur innovation and collaboration between governments, ministries and non-governmental organizations.
Premiers further emphasized the need for an integrated continuum of care that is both culturally appropriate and person-centred. Care at the community level that focuses on education, early intervention, effective treatment for those who most need it, and follow-up and recovery services to ensure positive outcomes provides a demonstrable way forward for all jurisdictions.
First responders are often a line of support for Canadians dealing with mental health crises. They need to be able to provide culturally-appropriate, safe responses, and be supported in their own mental health. Premiers encourage the federal government to fund programs for the RCMP and other first responders in support of this. They also commit to looking at their own first response programs to ensure necessary supports are available.
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