August 23, 2011

Specialized substance use services and supports have traditionally been funded without a comprehensive systems-level planning model in place to help allocate resources by service type and target population and according to population needs. Annual funding for treatment programs for one year has largely been driven by the budget(s) from previous years with the result that gaps in services based on actual population needs are perpetuated into the future.  The exact size and nature of these gaps are unknown across Canada as a whole, and within specific Canadian jurisdictions.  Adding to this challenge is the fact that planning efforts to date for substance use services and supports in Canada have been largely focused on the specialized sector of services that are specifically commissioned to provide treatment and support.

The need for a broader systems framework and corresponding treatment indicators and needs-based planning models has been articulated recently by the National Treatment Strategy Working Group, which, in 2008, presented recommendations for a national treatment strategy (NTS). Among the recommendations was a call to “…establish a process for reporting and sharing data on the capacity and use of services and supports, based on the [NTS] tiered model…” (pg. 32).

A process to develop the national picture regarding treatment service utilization and current capacity has begun through the work of the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA).  A second component focused on population needs and required capacity is now needed.  Together, these data will optimize the contribution of statistical data on treatment indicators to the Canadian and jurisdictional substance use services delivery system, following a broader, systems perspective.

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