Three local programs receive federal funding to increase support for substance users

GUELPH – Every day, families and communities across Canada lose loved ones to overdoses from  increasingly toxic illegal drugs.

Recently Guelph MP Lloyd Longfield, on behalf of the Honourable Ya’ara Saks, Minister of Mental and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, announced more than $1.8 million in federal funding for three projects in Guelph through Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program (SUAP).

This funding will allow the organizations to increase access to services for people who use drugs in Guelph.

The Guelph Community Health Centre will be able to increase the capacity of its current safer supply program while providing supports for participants, such as prescription access, access to primary and specialty care services, income, housing, and nutrition.

The funding will also help the Stonehenge Therapeutic Community provide a peer-led and low barrier response for people in Guelph and Wellington County struggling with substance use, and support the Wyndham House Inc. in providing youth access to multiple supports in Guelph, Wellington and Dufferin, including housing, education, and financial support.

The Government of Canada will continue working with all levels of government, partners, Indigenous communities, stakeholders, people with lived and living experience, and organizations across the country to improve health outcomes, save lives, and work towards an end to this national public health crisis.

“Our government is committed to supporting local organizations to continue improving care and reducing barriers for people who use substances in their communities, and saving lives,” said Saks in a press release.

“With this funding we can save and improve the lives of people with addictions and reduce harm from substance use including homelessness,”Longfield agreed.

Melissa Kwiatkowski CEO of Guelph Community Health Centre, said she’s grateful for the funding and that the government seems to understand that safer supply programs do a lot to save lives.

“This funding will allow Guelph CHC to continue to provide a lifesaving health care service that improves clients’ abilities to engage in care and address other health and social issues,” she states.

Wyndham House board president Rita Isley said substance use and mental health issues are major factors in youth homelessness.

“This funding provided by the federal government will help us assist, support, and prevent youth from entering the ongoing cycle of homelessness,” Isley said.

“To date, our concurrent hub program has assisted over 375 youth with concurrent needs, along with supporting them through housing diversion and housing retention. We thank the federal government and funding decision makers in supporting Wyndham House to deliver the necessary services for this deserving population.”

“This funding will allow Stonehenge Therapeutic Community to provide a substance use program that is fully led by Peer Recovery Coaches who have lived experience of substance use,” said Stonehenge Therapeutic Community CEO Kristin Kerr.

“Peers provide a support like no other as they have a unique capacity to provide support to those who are stigmatized. The Peers in this program use this unique skillset and connection to reduce repeat poisonings, minimize the harms related to substance use, and educate family and friends.”