This is a joint news release between the Council of Yukon First Nations and the Government of Yukon.
Today, the Government of Yukon, in partnership with First Nations governments, the Council of Yukon First Nations (CYFN) and in conversations with the Yukon Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), launched the Substance Use Health Emergency Strategy.
The Substance Use Health Emergency Strategy marks the next step in the Yukon’s approach to addressing the Substance Use Health Emergency declared in January 2022. It reflects a shared commitment by the Government of Yukon, Yukon First Nations governments and partner organizations to address substance use and organized crime in the territory.
The strategy envisions a Yukon where everyone leads a safe and healthy life, contributing to the wellbeing of their families, cultures and communities.
Grounded in four areas for growth, the Substance Use Health Emergency Strategy focuses on: prevention, harm reduction, treatment and recovery support and community safety and wellbeing.
Designed as a living document, the Substance Use Health Emergency Strategy recognizes the value of continuous collaboration with partners and stakeholders. A tailored approach – understanding each community’s unique needs, desires and cultural contexts – is central to the strategy’s design. This allows for the development of targeted interventions that are more likely to be effective and accepted by the communities they serve.
Implementation of the strategy will involve a collaborative approach that includes Yukon First Nations governments, communities, service providers and other partner organizations. Regular updates, adaptations and a transparent reporting process will ensure that the strategy remains relevant and responsive to changing circumstances and emerging needs.
Today’s launch of the Substance Use Health Emergency Strategy is a significant step forward in our coordinated and collaborative response to the Substance Use Health Emergency. Developed in collaboration with our partners, the strategy respects the unique cultural contexts and needs of each community. It illustrates our commitment to compassionate, evidence-based, adaptive solutions, crafted in dialogue with our partners. As we move forward, we remain focused on reducing substance use-related harms, supporting Yukoners who are struggling with mental health and addictions, and promoting safety and health across the Yukon.
Minister of Health and Social Services and Minister of Justice Tracy-Anne McPhee
The Council of Yukon First Nations is pleased to jointly launch the Substance Use Health Emergency Strategy, created in partnership and collaboration with the Government of Yukon, the Chief Medical Officer of Health, and the RCMP. While the precedent conditions are as complex as the individuals touched by this crisis, one thing is clear – we have lost too many too soon and the time for coordinated, specific action is now. For our territory, loss of life due to substance use represents a new epidemic that does not discriminate and has taken people from all walks of life and has disproportionately affected Yukon First Nations.
Council of Yukon First Nations Grand Chief Peter Johnston
Using substances, especially addictive ones, poses significant health challenges for our community. The launch of this strategy is a step towards a comprehensive, cross-sectoral approach to substance use in the Yukon. A key component of this strategy is prevention. Although the outcomes of prevention may take time to become evident, it is critical to address the factors behind substance initiation, just as it’s critical to help those presently grappling with misuse.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Sudit Ranade
- The Substance Use Health Emergency Strategy was shaped by a comprehensive review of best practices, the local context and insights from various engagement activities. This included Mental Wellness Summits, Opioid Treatment Services needs assessment, consultations with frontline providers and collaboration with organizations across the Yukon.
- The development of the strategy actively recognized and honoured the traditional territories of Indigenous Peoples in the Yukon. It acknowledged the necessity of reconciliation, the resilience of Indigenous Peoples and the aim to address systemic health disparities among Indigenous and non-Indigenous Yukoners.
- The Substance Use Health Emergency Strategy includes 43 actions across the four areas for growth to guide the ongoing response to many substance use issues in the territory, including those related to alcohol. Some of these actions are already underway.
- The implementation of the Substance Use Health Emergency Strategy is guided by nine key principles, including: Inclusion and Respect; Cultural Safety and Honouring Diversity; Choice and Autonomy; Accountability; Growth and Innovation; Person-Centred Care; Compassion; Pragmatism; and Restorative Justice. These principles underscore a commitment to inclusive, culturally sensitive and compassionate actions rooted in evidence.
- The implementation of the Substance Use Health Emergency Strategy will involve ongoing stakeholder engagement, transparent annual progress reporting and an adaptable approach. The strategy will utilize tracking indicators for evaluation, prioritize high-impact actions and continue to be guided by culturally informed, evidence-based practices.