Canada-US Roundtable on Strategies to Combat the Opioid Crisis

September 24, 2018
Event Overview and Working Agenda


The Canada-U.S. relationship is one that is unique in the world, marked by a shared border, common values and deep economic, security and cultural ties. Unfortunately, in recent years our two nations have begun to share a devastating trend: the rise in opioid-related deaths and opioid substance use disorders.

Canada and the United States benefit from substantial coordination in other shared priorities: public health surveillance in emerging infectious disease, border security, and traceability in other sectors.

There is great potential to build upon and expand existing relationships within each government to address this growing crisis, along with a broader community of stakeholders on both sides of the border. To this end, the Canada-U.S. Roundtable will assemble federal and state health professionals, members from law enforcement communities, policy makers and advocates from both countries.

The goals of the event are the following:
1. Exchange best practices in innovation to address problematic opioid use, including prevention, treatment and recovery.
2. Identify opportunities for collaboration, such as surveillance, research, training, and standards.

Ultimately, the roundtable could help encourage greater collaboration and cooperation between each country to confront this urgent issue in public health.

Event timing and location

The event will take place on September 24th, 2018 in Washington D.C. at the Canadian Embassy, in advance of the Association for State Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) annual conference. 

Event format and working agenda

The full-day event will include panels and breakout sessions. A working agenda is presented below, but subject to change based on feedback from speakers.




Opening keynote


Panel 1: The Opioid Crisis: Views from the Ground and 10,000 Feet

Panelist targets:
1. Federal points of contact in Canada and U.S. to address current epidemiology and national strategies to address crisis
2. Address broader social services trends/perspectives on social determinants of health (preferred)
3. First responders to address trends and challenges in their local communities




Panel 2: The Bright Lights: Innovation in Prevention, Treatment and Recovery

4-5 case examples (two Canadian, two U.S) from state/province/local level that demonstrate new approaches to prevention, treatment and recovery, particularly those that encourage cross-sectoral collaboration


Lunch Keynote: Confronting Crisis Through Leadership and Cooperation


Open Forum

Open session for audience to share perspectives and ideas for Canada-U.S. collaboration. People with live/lived experience with opioid substance use will be invited to open the Open Forum with comments.  




Breakout Sessions

Breakout session topics are included below. Each breakout group will identify and note opportunities for further Canada-U.S. collaboration beyond the event.

1. Fostering Cross-Border Coordination between Public Health and Law Enforcement: Case Examples and a Way Forward

Facilitating questions:

  • How are public health and law enforcement authorities currently working together to address common priorities, with respect to the opioid crisis?
  • Canadian and U.S. public health officials have demonstrated close coordination in areas such as emerging infectious disease. How could existing Can-U.S. coordination in public health be applied to address common priorities under the opioid crisis?
  • What are the opportunities and obstacles to fostering greater Canada-U.S. cross-coordination and information-sharing between public health and law enforcement?

2. Appropriate Prescribing, Chronic Pain Management, and Treatment of Opioid Use Disorders: Applying Lessons Learned

Facilitating questions:

  • What are the lessons learned from promoting non-opioid treatment options and medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder?
  • How are health systems working together with prescribers to encourage appropriate prescribing and the expansion of medication-assisted treatment (both in Canada and the U.S.)? 

3. Overcoming Access to Care Challenges: A Perspective from Rural and Urban Communities

Facilitating questions:

  • What novel approaches are being used to better service needs of rural communities.
  • How can we apply successes from urban settings to rural settings?
  • How are we examining the underlying causes that lead to addiction, and considering social determinants of health?
  • What are best practices with respect to social housing and treatment support?

4. Data, Surveillance and Research: Where We Are At, and Where We Need to Be

Facilitating questions:

  • What are the benefits and challenges associated with establishing standards for data collection, monitoring, sharing and research?
  • What informatics tools are being utilized to address the opioids crisis?
  • What are the lessons learned and way forward for Prescription Drug Monitoring? How can Canada and the United States work together to promote greater data sharing, research etc.?