This online tool reports more transparent and comprehensive data than previously captured in quarterly reports. The data will provide a deep and broad perspective on substance use in Alberta, supporting recovery-oriented care for Albertans battling addiction.

The new dashboard is the most detailed and comprehensive reporting system in Canada.

New data shows that COVID-19 continues to have a serious impact on those struggling with substance use. However, fatality numbers have been trending down since July, when more deaths were recorded than in any other month in the province’s history.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is not the only public health crisis in Alberta. Thousands of Albertans continue to battle mental health and addictions issues, often times made more difficult by public health measures, and Alberta’s government is firmly committed to being there to help them recover. This new data system will give us better insights into addiction issues, help us respond with better measures to support recovery, and ultimately support our overall goal of protecting lives and livelihoods through this pandemic and beyond.”

Jason Kenney, Premier of Alberta

After reaching a peak in July, opioid overdose deaths have steadily declined through August, September and October. From July to October, opioid overdose deaths decreased by 33 per cent and, similarly, emergency medical services responses decreased by 36 per cent from July to October. However, both rates remain significantly higher than pre-pandemic levels.

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a devastating and broad impact on the lives of many Albertans, especially those struggling with addiction. While opioid overdose deaths remain high, and we are deeply concerned about the impact of the second wave of the pandemic, it is promising that we are beginning to see a downward trend in fatalities. This new online reporting system will provide both government and the public with the most up-to-date data available to help understand these impacts and better target our response.”

Jason Luan, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions

Tracking substance use data helps the government better understand the addiction challenges in Alberta and make informed, strategic decisions about how best to support individuals needing to enter recovery.

As the pandemic continues, Alberta’s government remains focused on creating a world-class addiction and mental health system and ensuring that all Albertans have access to life-saving prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery services.

Albertans struggling with addiction can contact the Addiction Helpline at 1-866-332-2322 for support, information and referral to services. The toll-free, confidential helpline operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Alberta’s government is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by protecting lives and livelihoods with precise measures to bend the curve, sustain small businesses and protect Alberta’s health-care system.

Quick facts

  • From July to October 2020:
    • 443 people in Alberta died from apparent unintentional opioid poisoning.
      • Opioid poisoning deaths peaked in July before declining by 33 per cent in October.
    • EMS responded to 2,118 opioid-related events.
  • A record number of community naloxone kits were distributed in the third quarter of 2020 (27,641).
  • After in-person AHS opioid dependency clinics were disrupted in March and reached an all-time low in May due to the COVID-19 pandemic, participant numbers have been consistently increasing.   
  • The provincial government has committed $140 million over four years to enhance the mental health and addiction care system and create more publicly funded treatment spaces. This funding includes $40 million specifically to support the opioid response.
  • Alberta’s government responded by implementing Order 27 (originally Order 13), which provided operational and outbreak standards for residential addiction treatment service facilities to help prevent the spread of infection while allowing individuals to continue to receive treatment and overcome their addiction. This is in addition to ensuring mutual support groups, like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, were essential services and could continue.