7.5M grant will fund research into preventing opioid overdoses and treating opioid dependency

Newswise — September 14, 2017 – Ottawa, ON – Canadian Institutes of Health Research

The growing number of overdoses, and deaths caused by opioids, is a national public health crisis. The Government of Canada recognized this crisis and identified it as a key priority. Recent data indicates that in 2016, there were 2,816 apparent opioid-related deaths in Canada. While the Government is taking urgent action to avoid these preventable deaths, the Government recognizes the need for further research that will inform government policies and ongoing efforts to tackle this crisis.

Today, the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health, announced an investment of $7.5M from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to support practical research interventions to prevent opioid overdoses, treat those living with opioid dependency, and promote harm reduction. This research investment will enhance the development of evidence-based practices that can be used by those dealing with this crisis on the ground, while at the same time providing additional access to interventions across Canada. This investment will provide meaningful opportunities to improve ongoing efforts in communities.

The Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse (CRISM) will use this funding to study how to best integrate evidence-based interventions into practical settings. This national program will focus on interventions that have a high potential for reducing the individual and population harms of opioid use.

CRISM is a pan-Canadian network of about 500 researchers, service providers, policy makers and people with lived experience dedicated to conducting research and translating evidence-based interventions into clinical practice, community-based prevention, harm reduction, and health system changes.

The funds will be divided equally between CRISM’s four nodes, in British Columbia, the Prairies, Ontario, and the Quebec/Maritime regions. CRISM will consult extensively with its members to ensure the investment has the greatest impact.

Specifically, the research program will focus on:

  • expanding public health interventions such as safer consumption services and delivery of naloxone;
  • optimizing treatments for opioid use disorder, such as oral and injectable drug treatments;
  • improving the evidence base for managing withdrawal and recovery treatment options; and
  • collaborating with stakeholders to develop new intervention approaches that meet the needs of high-risk populations.



“One of my top priorities as Minister of Health is preventing the deaths caused by opioid overdoses and helping those who are struggling with opioid use disorder. Tackling this public health crisis requires us to work together, show compassion, and put in place interventions that have a strong foundation in scientific evidence. The funding for research we’re announcing today will help build that evidence base.”

The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health

“The investment announced today will speed up the development and implementation of science-based interventions so that overdose deaths can be prevented, those with opioid dependency receive effective treatments and that we reach those populations most at risk.”

Dr. Samuel Weiss
Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction

Quick Facts

  • The Government of Canada is taking a leadership role in addressing the opioids crisis by using all of its available tools, including, among others:

    • Providing a new investment of $100 million over 5 years, and $22.7 million ongoing, to support national measures associated with the Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy, as announced in Budget 2017.
    • Making legislative changes to help with harm reduction, such as streamlining the application process for supervised consumption sites.
    • Making naloxone available without a prescription and expediting the approval of the nasal spray version so it is now available in Canada.
    • Allowing the import of medications for immediate and urgent public health needs that are not yet authorized in Canada.
    • Passing the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act, which provides some legal protection for individuals who seek emergency help during an overdose.
    • Investing more than $350 million each year in community programming to help address the mental wellness needs of First Nations and Inuit communities.