Drug Treatment Court Funding Program


Canadian drug treatment courts (DTC) began as a response to large numbers of offenders being incarcerated for drug-related offences and continuing to re-offend due to underlying drug dependency. 

In December 1998, the first drug treatment court was established in Toronto. It brought together treatment services for substance abuse and the criminal justice system to deal more effectively with the drug addicted offenders. The Vancouver Drug Treatment Court subsequently opened in December 2001; followed by the Edmonton Drug Treatment and Community Restoration Court (December 2005); the Winnipeg Drug Treatment Court (January 2005); the Ottawa Drug Treatment Court (March 2006); and the Regina Drug Treatment Court (October 2006).

The Drug Treatment Court Funding Program (DTCFP) was established in 2004 and is part of the Treatment Action Plan of National Anti Drug Strategy.  The recipients of federal funding were selected through a call for proposals.

Who is Eligible

Provinces and territories are eligible for federal funding for the development, delivery and evaluation of drug treatment courts in Canada.


The Drug Treatment Court Funding Program (DTCFP) is a contribution funding program that aims to reduce crime committed as a result of drug dependency through court-monitored treatment and community service support for non-violent offenders with drug addictions.

The objectives of the DTCFP are:

  • To promote and strengthen the use of alternatives to incarceration;
  • To build knowledge and awareness among criminal justice, health and social services practitioners, and the general public about drug treatment courts; and
  • To collect information and data on the effectiveness of DTCs in order to promote best practices and the continuing refinement of approaches.


The DTCFP funds the development, delivery and evaluation of drug treatment courts in Canada. DTCs represent a concerted effort to break the cycle of drug use and criminal recidivism.  They focus on facilitating treatment for drug-involved offenders who meet specified criteria and provide an alternative to incarceration by offering an opportunity to complete a drug treatment program.  These special courts take a comprehensive approach intended to reduce the number of crimes committed to support drug dependency through judicial supervision, comprehensive substance abuse treatment, random and frequent drug testing, incentives and sanctions, clinical case management, and social services support.

Under the Treatment Action Plan of the National Anti-Drug Strategy (NADS), the Government of Canada has committed an ongoing, annual amount of approximately $3.6 million to support the Drug Treatment Court Funding Program. 

Official Languages

In support of Section 41 of the Official Languages Act, the Department is committed to facilitate the participation of official language minority communities and their organizations in the development and assessment of the Department's policies, programs and services having significant impact on the development of the communities; and to take measures to ensure that the Department of Justice's programs and services reach official language minority communities. In the context of project funding, these measures include:

  • outreach to official language minority communities to enhance their understanding of the Department of Justice funding programs; and
  • encouraging contacts between organizations that are receiving financial assistance and official language minority organizations/groups to ensure that the needs of these communities are taken into consideration in relation to the proposed projects to be considered for Department of Justice Canada funding.

Sustainable Development

The Department of Justice encourages you to submit all documents electronically.  If you submit documentation on paper, please consider printing on both sides of the paper.  These actions will minimize environmental impacts.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do DTCs operate in Canada?

Key Partners: clients, treatment providers, probation officers, community services, provincial prosecutors, federal prosecutors, duty counsel and judges

DTC Process:

Application Process – Offender submits a formal application to the DTC soon after an arrest;

Crown Screening – Crown attorney reviews applications and assesses them against specified eligibility criteria depending on the specific DTC site (e.g., non-violent offenders and criminal behaviour that is a result of illicit drug dependency, guilty plea to criminal charges, etc.);

Admission Process – Eligible applicants are interviewed by treatment personnel to determine their needs; the case is then presented to the DTC judge.  If rejected, then the offender will be returned to the regular court process;

DTC Program Participation – Prior to program commencement, the participant must plead guilty to the charges laid before them. Once admitted to the Program, participants make regular court appearances, submit to random and frequent urine drug testing and attend scheduled treatment sessions;

Program Completion – A participant who successfully completes the DTC program will typically participate in the program for 12 to 18 months, including three months of complete abstinence from all illegal drug use. Upon graduation, the successful participant will be sentenced for the original charges that have brought them before the DTC. Some participants will be expelled from the program due to non-compliance or incurring new charges.

What is the rate of success for these programs?
Based on data since 2007, over 1000 individuals have participated in a federally funded Drug Treatment Court.  Of these, 35% have either graduated or are still in the program.  Of the remaining 65% that were returned to the regular court system, the majority of them had achieved some quality of life improvements (e.g., no longer homeless, received several months of addiction treatment and were connected to social supports within the community).
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