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Episode 26: Reflecting on the State of Addictions Care
August 29, 2023

Episode 26: Reflecting on the State of Addictions Care

In February 2023, the Government of Canada announced it will increase health funding to the provinces and territories by $196.1 billion over the next 10 years. Included in this funding, in an effort to address Canada’s overdose crisis, is targeted support for mental health and substance use to ensure Canadians have equal access to “timely, equitable, and quality mental health, substance use, and addictions services.”

With rates of addiction rising across the country, community organizations like Addiction Services Central Ontario (ASCO) offer services including bed-based treatment slots, drop-in programs, peer support, counselling, case management, harm reduction and psychoeducation to those affected by addictions.

On International Overdose Awareness Day, the world’s largest annual campaign to end the overdose crisis and acknowledge those who are affected by addiction and overdose, Santis Health is proud to share this conversation with Penny Marrett, Executive Director of ASCO. We discuss the current state of addictions services in Ontario and across Canada, some of the challenges being faced today and the steps we can take together to strengthen the addictions sector.

Penny Marrett is the Executive Director of Addiction Services Central Ontario (ASCO), a leading government funded clinical treatment provider for substance use, problem gambling and mental health concerns.

Under Penny’s leadership, ASCO operates more than 13 programs from different locations in York Region, South Simcoe and North York, embracing a holistic, biological, psychological, social and spiritual approach to understanding addiction. This year, ASCO celebrates their 40th anniversary. Since 1983, the organization has served thousands of clients each year, providing a range of addiction and mental health programs and services, supports and referrals for adults, youth (12+) and their families.

Over the span of her 40-year career in the not-for-profit sector, Penny has also been an active volunteer. Her volunteer experience has included serving a Board Member of Addictions and Mental Health Ontario, the Windsor Family Health Team, the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, the Trillium Chapter of the Canadian Society of Association Executive and the Canadian Soccer Association. She has also volunteered at Distress Centres of Greater Toronto and the Assaulted Women’s Helpline, among others.