Prescription pills containing oxycodone and acetaminophen are shown on June 20, 2012. How governments fund the country’s fight against the opioid crisis may contribute to “a lack of progress” on the issue, says newly disclosed documents that probe an alternative financing model eyed by Health Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy

Prescription pills containing oxycodone and acetaminophen are shown on June 20, 2012. How governments fund the country’s fight against the opioid crisis may contribute to “a lack of progress” on the issue, says newly disclosed documents that probe an alternative financing model eyed by Health Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy

Report tells Health Canada to rethink funding in opioids fight

Report says feds should focus funding where service providers are helping people with opioid-use disorder

How governments fund the country’s fight against the opioid crisis might explain ”a lack of progress” on the issue, say newly disclosed documents on an alternative Health Canada is considering.

The paper obtained by The Canadian Press suggests federal officials should focus funding where service providers can prove they are helping people with opioid-use disorder.

“It can be argued that the focus on inputs and outputs using grants and contributions funding, rather than on outcomes, has not proven optimal for addressing many pressing social challenges and may be contributing to a lack of progress in addressing the major challenges of the opioid crisis,” the report says.

Funding programs based on a tight focus on successful results is something Health Canada has reviewed for months as part of a wider federal effort to find new ways to finance and test social services in a way that limits risk to government coffers.

How that works is a service provider, usually a non-profit, partners with a private financier to front the money for a project — and the government pays out if it succeeds.

The paper suggests governments focus on projects for high-risk populations, with clearly definable goals, or “evidence to suggest that they can achieve the target outcomes.”

Health Canada says it is reviewing the report, but hasn’t set timelines for any decisions.

“Health Canada will continue to explore innovative approaches to funding interventions, in order to identify new and more effective ways of supporting Canadians with opioid-use disorder,” spokeswoman Maryse Durette wrote in an email.

The paper was a final report from Toronto-based Centre for Addiction and Mental Health — Canada’s biggest mental-health teaching hospital — and the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing, which were helping Health Canada study social-impact bonds, as the financing model is known.

These kinds of arrangements have helped fund about 20 health-related projects worldwide.

One section of the report notes the political implications for governments.

The paper says paying for certain outcomes “may be more difficult to defend from public scrutiny than paying for others.” And paying returns to investors could go over poorly, even if they have funded projects that met their goals.

The proposed bond to address the opioid crisis has caught the attention of the Ontario government as well as Addictions and Mental Health Ontario, which represents about 200 organizations in the province.

The report says both have “high interest” in becoming partners.

“Perhaps by considering other kinds of financing options you may be able to get access to other kinds of players, or other kinds of models, or other innovative means of financing to develop some of these interventions and get them going,” said Dr. Abhimanyu Sud, director of the group Safer Opioid Prescribing, and an assistant professor at the University of Toronto.

“They’re not going to happen without government involvement. You do need government to back them in some way, either to provide the return or to provide the base payments depending on what the model may be.”

In mid-January, federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu talked about moving beyond measuring the success of federal funding by counting how many needles a clinic bought or how many information posters it put up, or the number of encounters with patients a group had.

“What we want to know really is, what are the outcomes,” she said on a visit to Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

“So we work with our partners on those evaluations and try to get to a more tangible outcome evaluation so that we can answer those questions.”

READ MORE: Opioid crisis to blame for shorter life expectancy in B.C. men, says Stats Can

— With files from Hina Alam in Vancouver

Jordan Press, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

opioids

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

Photo courtesy of Abbotsford Police Department.
‘Vehicle Maintenance 101 for Teens’ to be hosted by Abbotsford Police traffic officers

Virtual meetups with Q&A period held on April 23, May 11, May 25

Stock photo from Unsplash.com
Free online workshops on ‘advance care planning’ hosted in Abbotsford

3 sessions hosted by Abbotsford Hospice Society and Association for Healthy Aging

People stroll through rows of tulips in bloom during the Tulips of the Valley Festival on May 2, 2017. The colourful spring event, now called Chilliwack Tulips, opens on Sunday, April 11, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Chilliwack tulip attraction open this weekend after being closed last year due to COVID-19

More than 6.5 million bulbs in all at this year’s colourful Chilliwack Tulips event

The new American Eagle location at Highstreet Shopping Centre is set to open up this summer. (John Morrow/Abbotsford News)
Abbotsford American Eagle store opening at Highstreet Shopping Centre

Sevenoaks Shopping Centre location closing on April 18, new store opening in summer

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Emergency crews on scene after a small plane crashed in a grassy area on the northeast side of Boundary Bay Airport Saturday morning (April 10). A freelancer said the plane caught fire and one person was transported to hospital by BC Emergency Health Services. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
1 taken to hospital after plane crash at Metro Vancouver airport

Plane appears to have suffered ‘significant’ damage, says freelancer

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
Vehicle launched into B.C. Walmart removed following rescue of trapped workers

Crews cut new hole in parkade wall to remove vehicle safely

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Ruming Jiang and his dog Chiu Chiu are doing fine following a brush with hypothermia that saw several people work together to get them out of the Fraser River near Langley’s Derby Reach Park on March 25, 2021 (Special to the Advance Times)
Man finds men who rescued him from drowning in B.C.’s Fraser River

A grateful Ruming Jiang says he will thank them again, this time in person when the pandemic ends

The 10-part Netflix series Maid, which is being exclusively shot in Greater Victoria, was filming near Prospect Lake in Saanich last month. (Photo courtesy Fred Haynes)
Province announces $150,000 towards film studio, fulfilling B.C. NDP promise

Investment to fund movie studio feasibility study at Camosun College

Tyson Ginter, 7, is proud of his latest Hot Wheels he recently received by Quesnel RCMP Const. Matt Joyce. (Photo submitted)
B.C. Mountie handing out toy cars to light up children’s faces

‘A lot of times it will be the only interaction they have with the police,’ says Const. Matt Joyce

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read