Nfld. & Labrador

Opioid addiction target of $4M funding from N.L., feds

The Newfoundland and Labrador and federal governments are spending $4 million to fight addiction in the east coast province.

Federal and provincial money coming to tackle deadly addiction problem in N.L.

Suboxone has allowed many people to get their lives back on track by staving off opioid cravings. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

The Newfoundland and Labrador government hopes a new agreement with their federal counterparts will close a gap for people needing substance abuse treatment in the province.

While in Winnipeg, Health Minister John Haggie and federal Minister of Health Ginette Petitpas Taylor signed an agreement under Canada's new emergency treatment fund.

More than $4 million — $2.7 million from the province and $1.6 million from the feds — will be used to pay for case managers, primary care providers, and telemedicine, with a focus on opioid addiction treatment.

Health teams created

Using a new model, Haggie said people will have more access to treatment in their own communities.

Four regional health teams will be located around the province, with access to treatments like Suboxone, a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone lauded across the country as the newest — and best — way to treat opioid addiction.

Video links and telehealth will provide access to people in communities where doctors don't have an office, Haggie said in an interview with CBC News.

"We would have the ability [for people with addictions] to be seen immediately if it's during the working day or to be looked at overnight and then sent on where they can start their Suboxone that day," Haggie said.

"It's lowering the barriers to the point where people want to come forward and have some care."

Haggie wants to be able to treat those struggling with opioid addiction at the moment they decide they need help. 

In addition to the regional groups, a provincial treatment centre will be established in St. John's. 

Nearly 4,000 people died across Canada last year because of an apparent opioid-involved overdose.

Numbers released from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in February show 25 people accidentally overdosed on drugs last year — an increase of five people from two years ago.

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

About the Author

Ariana Kelland is a reporter with the CBC Newfoundland and Labrador bureau in St. John's.