This program was funded by a contribution from Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program (SUAP). The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of Health Canada
The COVID-19 pandemic is not the only national public health crisis impacting our communities today. For more than a decade now, frontline workers and communities across Canada have been battling the opioid poisoning crisis, which has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Canadians in just the last five years alone.
• Health Canada reports that in the 12 months following the start of the COVID-19 pandemic (March 2020), the rate of deaths by opioid poisonings in Canadians increased by 88%, representing 6,946 deaths in the first year of COVID
Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program (SUAP) has enlisted the help of St. John Ambulance to provide training opportunities and low-barrier nasal Naloxone access to local communities. Our role is to empower organizations and individuals to respond safely and effectively to opioid poisonings in their local communities.
Our program takes a 3-pronged approach to reaching audiences with different experiences:
• Expansion of all St. John Ambulance First Aid certification courses to include a comprehensive module related to Opioid Poisoning awareness – expected to reach more then 500,000 Canadians per year
• Provision of live facilitated training classes and distribution of free nasal naloxone kits to:
o Frontline workers and volunteers from organizations supporting people who experience homelessness
o Members of “underserved” populations who may lack regular access to education and resources around opioid poisoning events and Naloxone access
- The launch of a national online, self-guided learning course about Opioid Poisoning Awareness and Response, available to all Canadians free of charge
St. John Ambulance recognizes that each community faces unique challenges in navigating a public health crisis as vast as opioid poisoning. Our goal is to reduce barriers to access of the information and resources needed to improve the chances of survival during an opioid poisoning event.