Last month, the federal and Saskatchewan governments signed a bilateral agreement to improve access to treatment for people with substance use disorders.

The agreement will provide more than $5 million from the federal government. Along with improved access to treatment, the agreement will facilitate the training and recruitment of health care providers and professionals.

Kathy Willerth is the Director of Mental Health and Addictions with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health. "The Emergency Treatment Fund has been earmarked for types of initiatives rather than locations. Many of these initiatives will benefit the whole province, such as increasing access to opioid substitution therapy."

With regard to how the allocation of funds is determined, Willerth said, "The Ministry of Health is working with the Saskatchewan Health Authority and other partners to develop an action plan for the first year of activities. Funds for innovative treatment solutions will be allocated to service providers based on local needs assessments, innovative approaches, and expected impact on access to treatment and retention in treatment programs."

Willerth said funding will begin in April 2019 and end in March of 2023, and that a detailed work plan is still being developed. 

According to Willerth, the Emergency Treatment Fund is focused on improving treatment services for individuals who use opioids and/or crystal meth. The funds have been earmarked for four kinds of initiatives:

1) Enhancing existing treatment approaches by providing training in Trauma Informed Practice and other complementary skills to support the treatment of substance use disorders.  The target audience includes physicians, nurses, pharmacists, addiction counsellors, and outreach staff;
2) Supporting innovative treatment solutions through one-time funding to the Saskatchewan Health Authority and Community Based Organizations to increase treatment access and retention in treatment programs;
3) Funding to regulatory agencies to enhance access to Opioid Substitution Therapy; and,
4) Developing crystal meth-specific resources and training, including training of trainers in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Motivational Interviewing for addictions counsellors.

The province has already invested $7.4 million to expand access to opioid substitution therapy.

Read the full release here.

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