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Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction

Statement by Rita Notarandrea on the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada’s Annual Report and Its Emphasis on Stigma

Ottawa, December 19, 2019 - The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) welcomes the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada’s Annual Report on the State of Public Health in Canada 2019 and its attention to the stigma associated with substance use and addiction.

We commend Dr. Tam for shining a spotlight on stigma as a public health issue and its devastating impact on the health and well-being of Canadians. Like addiction, stigma affects people from all walks of life. It is experienced everywhere: in our communities, workplaces and public services. The evidence is clear. Stigma prevents people from seeking and receiving help. It impacts their access to services and often influences the quality of care and supports that individuals receive.

CCSA has made it a priority to increase awareness of stigma and its devastating impacts. Many people with lived and living experience with substance use have shared their stories about stigma with us. We have learned from these stories and we continue to learn more. Words matter and stigma hurts.

With the ongoing support of Dr. Tam and our valued partners, we have put these perspectives and evidence into action by taking the conversation about stigma nationwide over the last year. Our regional stigma workshops and Stigma Ends with Me social media campaign sparked conversations across Canada, raising much needed awareness of this important issue and how it touches all of us, in our work places and in our communities.

We know we must do more if we want to change how people think and act when it comes to people who use substances and substance use disorders. Our goals are to inform policies and influence practices to reduce stigma in its various forms. To this end, we have also invested in on-the-ground community action on stigma through our initiative in Ottawa, which, we hope, through community partnerships and engagement will serve as a model to reduce system-wide stigma in different communities across the country.

Putting people first is key to addressing stigma and building an inclusive, compassionate society for our future generations. Words matter. Actions hurt. Working together with advocates including Dr. Tam, I know we can make a difference, one step at a time. Stigma ends with all of us.

Rita Notarandrea, M.H.Sc., C.H.E.
Chief Executive Office, Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction

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