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Major Studies of Drugs and Drug Policy
Canadian Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs
Volume 2 - Policies and Practices In Canada

Chapter 11 - A National Drug Strategy?

Phase III – Renewal without specified funding  


In 1997, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) was enacted. This legislation formed part of CDS; it was focused, according to the government, on modernizing and enhancing the drug abuse control policy underlying the previous legislation and on fulfilling Canada’s international obligations. It should be noted that since the introduction of the CDSA, most changes to federal legislation dealing with illicit drugs have focused on supply reduction.

In 1998, CDS was renewed in principle but without any specified funding, despite warnings of possible negative consequences. An evaluation of Health Canada’s contributions to CDS stated that:


We must conclude that short-term initiatives such as the CDS Phase II are useful in that they inspire a higher sense of priority for a certain issue; at the same time, they hold inherent disadvantages in addressing an issue such as substance abuse, that is widely recognized to require a longer-term intervention than time-limited initiative funding will allow. [1][31]


The following was also added:


The CDS Phase II Health Canada Component made a considerable investment in research and program development, and information monitoring systems. In many areas, Health Canada is now poised to reap benefits from the knowledge gained – however it is feared that this will not be the case due to non-renewal.


There are also concerns that the sunsetting of the Health Canada component of the CDS will not only leave a void but see the balance in the federal harm reduction policy list too far in the direction of supply reduction, and that Canada’s international credibility will also suffer. [2][32]   


The signatories were limited to federal departments and agencies, with Health Canada again responsible for providing national leadership and coordination. CDS still states that it reflects a balance between reducing the supply of drugs and reducing the demand for drugs. The long‑term goal of the strategy remains unchanged: it is to reduce the harm associated with alcohol and other drugs to individuals, families and communities. The goals of CDS are to:


v     Reduce the demand for drugs;

v     Reduce drug-related mortality and morbidity;

v     Improve the effectiveness of and accessibility to substance abuse information and interventions;

v     Restrict the supply of illicit drugs and reduce the profitability of illicit drug trafficking; and

v     Reduce the costs of substance abuse to Canadian society.[3][33]  


The strategy states that it is built on four pillars: prevention; enforcement and control; treatment and rehabilitation; and harm reduction. Within this general framework, seven separate components have been identified: research and knowledge development; knowledge dissemination; prevention programming; treatment and rehabilitation; legislation, enforcement and control; national coordination; and international co-operation.[4][34]  

The Drug Strategy and Controlled Substances Program, within the Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch of Health Canada, currently spends $34 million annually on substance abuse.[5][35] The Office of Canada’s Drug Strategy currently manages $16.5 million of the $34-million total budget. The Alcohol and Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation program, which was originally managed by HRDC, was transferred to Health Canada in October 1997. It is currently managed by the Office of Canada’s Drug Strategy, which provides $14 million to the provinces for treatment and rehabilitation programs. The other $2.5 million is allocated to the CCSA ($1.5 million) and for research and program management ($1.0 million). The remaining $17.5 million is allocated by the Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch as follows: administration of regulations other than the Marijuana Medical Access Regulations ($5.0 million); Medical Marijuana Program ($5.0 million); drug analytical services ($4.5 million); policy, research and international affairs ($3.0 million).[6][36]

Health Canada does spend other resources on substance abuse through the department’s varied activities. For example, the Population and Public Health Branch allocates resources to deal with HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C, and to deal with FAS/FAE.



[1][31]  Health Canada, Evaluation of Health Canada’s Contributions to Canada’s Drug Strategy: Final Report, December 1996, pages 33-34.

[2][32]  Ibid., pages 34-35.

[3][33]  Government of Canada, Canada’s Drug Strategy, 1998, pages 4-5.

[4][34]  While CDS deals with both licit and illicit substances, a separate strategy has been developed to identify specific approaches to tobacco.

[5][35]  This does not include expenditures made by the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, which total approximately $70 million.

[6][36]  Health Canada, Presentation to the Special Committee on Illegal Drugs, 10 June 2002.  

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