Canada’s opioid crisis is worsening. Even as fewer opioids are being prescribed, harms resulting from opioid use continue to rise. 

There is an urgent need to reduce the harms associated with opioid use.

CIHI’s role

In 2015, CIHI received funding from Health Canada to help improve the national evidence base on substance use and harms. In 2016, CIHI joined 54 other national organizations in signing the Joint Statement of Action to Address the Opioid Crisis in Canada.

As part of the joint statement, CIHI pledged:

  • To make recommendations about the investigation and reporting of drug-related deaths
  • To produce key metrics on the prevalence and harms of opioid use, and to make them publicly available
  • To support public reporting on the number of opioid-related deaths in Canada

A collective approach

Many organizations are working in collaboration to address the opioid crisis. Learn more about these organizations and some of their initiatives:

Opioid reporting resources

Latest releases from CIHI

Explore CIHI’s latest opioid-related reports and analyses

The Government of Canada is working closely with the provinces and territories to collect and share data on apparent opioid-related deaths. Visit PHAC’s website External link, opens in new window for the latest data on opioid-related deaths in Canada.

Measuring Prescription Opioid Use

This information sheet provides an overview of 2 measures that are commonly used when analyzing prescription opioid utilization trends: defined daily dose (DDD) and morphine milligram equivalence (MME). It also outlines considerations for the use of each measure. Read Measuring Prescription Opioid Use (PDF). 

Standardized definition of opioid-related deaths

The number of opioid-related deaths remains a key piece of information for public health leaders. In March 2017, a pan-Canadian definition was established with chief coroners and chief medical examiners from across Canada to enable accurate and comparable reporting. View the definition

Data quality resources for clinicians and coders

In February 2018, CIHI released new clinician guidelines to support the capture of opioid overdose cases. These guidelines are meant to improve clinical documentation around opioid overdoses. View the guidelines.

In November 2017, CIHI released new coding direction to help hospital coders accurately capture cases of opioid overdose. Read the opioid overdose coding direction.

CIHI data that can help support prescription drug use surveillance

Stay up to date

Learn more about recent activities and newly available products from CIHI and other key organizations working in the field of substance use and surveillance:

If you wish to have future editions of the eNewsletter delivered directly to your inbox, please contact us at

Learn more

If you want to learn more about CIHI’s opioid work, visit our Opioids in Canada web page or contact us directly at