Canada will spend $2.4 billion this year on new drugs, as part of a $4 billion investment announced Friday by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as the country prepares to take a bigger role in addressing its opioid crisis.
The spending will include $2 billion to invest in a new pharmaceutical industry, and $1 billion to support research and development to develop treatments for the drug addiction.
The government will also invest $2 million in an opioid treatment centre in the province of Ontario and $500,000 for the first phase of a supervised injection facility in Toronto.
Trudeau’s announcement is part of an effort to address the growing number of people addicted to prescription painkillers.
Trudeau says he wants to see the number of Canadians addicted to opioids reach one million before the end of 2020.
The announcement comes amid growing calls for Canada to step up its involvement in tackling the crisis.
Trudeau said the new spending, which includes $500 million for the opioid centre, will be dedicated to helping Canadians with prescription painkiller addiction and help with prevention efforts.
The Liberal government says the centre will focus on people who use prescription painkilling drugs in the first two years of its operations.
The centre will have about 700 staff, with the majority of staff being from outside Canada.
The Liberals plan to spend another $1.2 billion over the next five years to expand the drug-abuse treatment infrastructure and to help the country deal with its growing opioid problem.
Health Minister Jane Philpott said the government is working on measures to help those addicted to opioid medication.
“The money is a critical first step towards getting the needle in the haystack,” Philpowksi said.
“We need to make sure that we can address the opioid crisis in a way that is sustainable and sustainable in the long term.”
The new spending is the second increase in funding in three years, but it’s not the biggest.
The Conservative government increased the amount spent on health care by $300 million in 2017.
The Liberals are also investing $200 million to create the first supervised injection site in Toronto, with a target of providing 1,000 people with supervised injection services within the next six months.
While Trudeau has said the goal is to treat drug addiction and the opioid epidemic in the same way as it did the past two decades, his administration has acknowledged that it will take longer to find a cure than that.
Canada has seen a sharp increase in the number, and number of, opioid deaths in recent years.