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Archived - Minister Ambrose co-hosts symposium on prescription drug abuse

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January 24, 2014
For immediate release

Toronto – Minister of Health, the Honourable Rona Ambrose, co-hosted a symposium in Toronto today, attended by over 40 people, including officials from different levels of government, doctors, pharmacists, First Nations representatives, law enforcement and addictions specialists to discuss prescription drug abuse.

The symposium, co-hosted and moderated by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA), focused on identifying actions to address prescription drug abuse under the three action plans of the National Anti-Drug Strategy: prevention, treatment, and enforcement.  As announced in the 2013 Speech from the Throne, the Government has committed to expanding the scope of its National Anti-Drug Strategy to address prescription drug abuse.

Addressing prescription drug abuse is a shared responsibility for which Federal/Provincial/Territorial governments and civil society groups have committed to work together. The federal government has provided funding support to the CCSA, which developed a strategy entitled " First Do No Harm: Responding to Canada's Prescription Drug Crisis" that continues to be a key tool.

Quick Facts

  • The 2012 Canadian Alcohol and Drug Use Monitoring Survey (CADUMS) indicates approximately 410,000 Canadians reported abusing psychoactive pharmaceuticals in the past year, more than double the number in 2011.
  • In 2012, about 1 million youth, aged 15 to 24 years, reported having used a psychoactive pharmaceutical in the past 12 months. About 210,000 of these youth also reported having abused them.


"Our Government is committed to working with our partners to address this complex issue," said Minister Ambrose. "Never before in Canada have this many people from the health field, law enforcement, First Nations and government come together to take collective action on prescription drug abuse, using the National Anti-Drug Strategy as a guide.  By continuing to work together, we can protect Canadians from the misuse of medicine and tackle head on prescription drug abuse and addiction."

Rona Ambrose
Minister of Health

"Today's symposium provided a valuable opportunity to bring together many professionals with a role to play in addressing prescription drug abuse. We welcome the leadership of Minister Ambrose in advancing the government's commitment to include prescription drug abuse into its National Anti-Drug Strategy. The work of this symposium will advance the findings and recommendations of CCSA's First Do No Harm strategy, to improve the health and safety of all Canadians."

Michel Perron
Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse

"The Canadian Medical Association was pleased today to participate in a multi-stakeholder symposium to explore how to address the prescription drug abuse crisis Canada is grappling with," said Dr. Louis Hugo Francescutti, President of the CMA. "It is important that we translate the momentum generated today into action. Canada's physicians would welcome further engagement through an outcomes-oriented, multi-stakeholder process aligned with the federal/provincial/territorial collaboration already underway on data and surveillance, prescription monitoring programs and prescribing practices."

Dr. Louis Hugo Francescutti
President of the CMA

"The negative impacts related to prescription drug misuse are an ongoing and very significant concern among First Nations in Ontario region and across the country," said Assembly of First Nations Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy, Chair of the National Chiefs Committee on Health. "Confirmation of this matter as a federal priority and bringing together all sectors and jurisdictions is a very important place to start. We continue to support and encourage the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and the federal government to work in partnership with First Nation communities and regional and national partners. Last March the Assembly of First Nations expressed support for the national strategy on prescription drug abuse launched by the CCSA and we continue to support these types of collaborative efforts to ensure First Nations cultures, knowledge and healing practices are respected and that any action plan will work to keep our peoples safe and secure."  

Stan Beardy
Assembly of First Nations Ontario Regional Chief

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