Substance use health emergency declared in the Yukon
Health and Social Services Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee has declared a substance use health emergency following a drastic increase in overdose related deaths in the territory.
The Government of Yukon is working closely with partners to advance a range of harm reduction initiatives in response to the emergency. A number of initiatives will be underway including:
- a new territory-wide public awareness and education campaign addressing the toxic drug supply present in Yukon communities;
- expanding drug testing and safe supply to rural communities and increasing availability in Whitehorse;
- enhancing the Yukon government’s supervised consumption site to support those who use inhalants;
- increasing on-the-land treatment options in the territory;
- working with Blood Ties Four Directions to extend the hours of operation of the outreach van, which provides mobile fentanyl testing and enhanced supports to marginalized individuals; and
- developing a new Opioid Action Plan to build on the success of the territory’s first Action Plan in 2018.
In partnership with Yukon First Nations, the Yukon government will host phase one of a mental health summit in February. This summit will bring together leaders, partners and those with lived experience from across the territory to focus efforts to address substance use, the opioid crisis and suicide prevention and identify collaborative solutions to support communities.
This declaration is a commitment to action by our government, and a call to action to all Yukoners. It is time to rally around our communities, our friends, our neighbours and family members who need our support. We need to address our territory’s substance use health emergency and make our communities more safe and healthy. Substance use is killing people and creating mental health crises in each and every Yukon community.
Minister of Health and Social Services Tracy-Anne McPhee
The rapid increase in opioid-related deaths signals a significant health problem that requires immediate focused attention. The Yukon’s illicit drug supply is contaminated and that is contributing to a significant increase of accidental overdose, injury, illness and death. As acting CMOH, I am committed to focusing our resources, enhancing our partnerships across Yukon and addressing this complex health issue. By coming together I am confident that we will be able to address the immediate crisis and work to improve the underlying factors that contribute to illicit drug related harms.
acting Chief Medical Office of Health Dr. Catherine Elliott
- In September 2021, the Government of Yukon opened the first supervised consumption site in the North. On site, clients can access a range of harm reduction and social services including drug testing; harm reduction counselling; access to naloxone; drug use equipment exchange; medical care from a trained professional; counselling treatment services; and training in safer use practices. Clients can also receive referrals to social, medical and mental wellness and substance use supports.
- In October 2021, the Government of Yukon expanded access to a medically prescribed safe supply of opioids to address the opioid crisis in the Yukon. Safe supply refers to the provision of a pharmaceutical drug supply of known quantity and quality, as a safer option for adults who use illegal drugs and are at high risk of overdosing. Safe supply is a physician-prescribed and pharmacy-dispensed program that helps Yukoners who use opioids access a safer supply of opioids.
Communications, Health and Social Services