National Anti-Drug Strategy Annual Performance Report 2012-13

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Launched in 2007, the mandate of the National Anti-Drug Strategy (the Strategy) is to prevent the use of, treat dependency on, and reduce the production and distribution of illicit drugs in Canada, which will lead to safer and healthier communities. The Strategy is carried out through 20 operational components managed by 12 federal departments and agencies.

The Treasury Board Secretariat requires the submission of an annual performance report on the Strategy. The purpose of this annual report is to provide an overview of the Strategy, including its background and governance, and to report on its outcomes for the fiscal year 2012-13, which covers the period from April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013.

Information for the report was provided by each department or agency in a standardized performance reporting template which incorporated input from the Strategy programs and activities operated by that department or agency. These templates detailed the progress and achievements of each of the 20 Strategy programs and activities, and how each met its objectives. The Department of Justice Canada, which leads the Strategy, gathered information from these performance reporting templates and compiled it in this annual report for the 2012-13 fiscal year. This report examines the programs and activities under the scope of the Strategy as defined in its draft Performance Measurement Strategy, which will be finalized in 2013-14.

The National Anti-Drug Strategy Profile

Background: The National Anti-Drug Strategy

The National Anti-Drug Strategy (the Strategy), built upon Government of Canada priorities of tackling crime and creating healthier, safer communities, was launched on October 4, 2007, and highlighted in the October 16, 2007 Speech from the Throne:

“Our Government will implement the National Anti-Drug Strategy giving law enforcement agencies powers to take on those who produce and push drugs on our streets. In addition to tougher laws, our Government will provide targeted support to communities and victims. It will help families and local communities in steering vulnerable youth away from a life of drugs and crime, and the Anti-Drug Strategy will help to treat those suffering from drug addiction.”

Drug-related issues have serious and wide-reaching ramifications for Canadian society. Speeches from the Throne given in 2007, 2010 and 2011 have highlighted the federal government’s priorities of tackling crime and creating healthier and safer communities. Dealing with illegal drug use falls under both of these priorities. Thus, the Strategy is an important part of the government’s agenda.

Strategy Action Plans

The 2007 Speech from the Throne articulated how the National Anti-Drug Strategy would address illegal drug use. It would help families and communities steer youth away “from a life of drugs and crime.” The Strategy would also help to treat people suffering with drug dependencies. It would give law enforcement agencies the powers to deal with those producing and dealing drugs. These three mandates of Prevention, Treatment and Enforcement are the Action Plans of the Strategy.

The Prevention Action Plan supports efforts to prevent youth from using illicit drugs by enhancing their awareness and understanding of the harmful social and health effects of illicit drug use, and to develop and implement community-based interventions and initiatives to prevent illicit drug use. The Treatment Action Plan supports effective treatment and rehabilitation systems and services by developing and implementing innovative and collaborative approaches. The Enforcement Action Plan aims to contribute to the disruption of illicit drug operations in a safe manner, particularly targeting criminal organizations.

Strategy Partners

Twelve federal departments and agencies work together to carry out the 20 operational components to the Strategy, in addition to the Department of Justice Canada’s role in leading the Strategy. Each operational component addresses a particular aspect of the illicit drug problem.

The 12 federal department and agency partners are:

Other federal departments/agencies with an interest in issues relevant to the Strategy, including the three Central Agencies, may be consulted where appropriate. These include: 

The Strategy is complex, involving not only the 12 federal departments and agencies and other interested federal departments, but also a wide range of provincial/territorial, national and international stakeholders, non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, communities, private sector corporations and associations. These all play various roles in the Strategy, including by providing services, creating and operating new programs and conducting research.

Strategy Budget Footnote 1

The 2012-13 fiscal year saw the Strategy enter its second five year reporting cycle. The total federal five-year funding allocation from 2012-13 to 2016-17 is $515.9 million. Total planned spending for all federal partners in 2012-13 was $106.6 million. Total actual spending for all federal partners for the 2012-13 reporting period was $110.7 million.

Impact Evaluation Key Findings

In 2012, an Impact Evaluation Footnote 2 of the Strategy was approved. The evaluation focused on the first four years of the Strategy and assessed its relevance, effectiveness and demonstrated efficiency and economy. The evaluation identified a continued need for the Strategy and confirmed that it is consistent with government priorities.

Health Canada’s mass media campaign (2007-12) was highlighted as a best practice among federal campaigns for its use of social media and other innovative techniques. Youth who recalled the advertisements were more likely to be knowledgeable of harmful effects of illicit drugs. Some elements of this campaign are continuing on the Strategy’s website.

The evaluation also revealed a need for better information sharing between the Strategy’s action plans and a reconsideration of the Strategy’s governance structure to ensure that all of the appropriate partners are fully participating. These items have been articulated in the Management Response and Action Plan to the evaluation and partners are working toward implementing all recommendations.

Strategy Governance

The Department of Justice Canada leads the Strategy working closely with 11 federal department partners to develop policy and legislation, and coordinate Strategy communication, research, and reporting and evaluation.

The Strategy is governed by an Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) Steering Committee which is chaired by Justice Canada and for which Justice Canada provides the secretariat function. In addition to the ADM Steering Committee, there are four interdepartmental director-general level working groups that oversee the development and implementation of various aspects of the Strategy and which report to the ADM Steering Committee; three of the working groups are supported by sub-working groups:

Strategy Working Groups

Assistant Deputy Minister Steering Committee

The ADM Steering Committee oversees the implementation of the Strategy, making the necessary decisions to advance the initiative, ensuring that objectives and goals are maintained and met, and that all programs are accountable for monitoring progress and funding. The ADM Steering Committee prepares information and makes policy development recommendations for the consideration of deputy ministers, where appropriate.

The Steering Committee comprises ADMs from 11 departments and agencies. Representatives from PCO and TBS sit on the ADM Steering Committee along with nine Strategy partners: CBSA, CRA, CSC, DFATD, HC, Justice Canada, PPSC, Public Safety, and the RCMP.

Members of the ADM Steering Committee discuss their respective department or agency’s progress, achievements, and outcomes as they relate to the Strategy. The Committee then makes and approves decisions that advance the work of the Strategy. Its role is to ensure that the Strategy’s components are on track and continuing to meet the Strategy’s goals and objectives, and that all programs are accountable for monitoring progress and use of Strategy funds.

The ADM Steering Committee met once in the reporting period. Updates on the three Strategy Action Plans and program initiatives were provided to the committee. Further to the Strategy’s 2012 Impact Evaluation, the Management Response and Action Plan was reviewed and implementation was discussed.

Policy and Performance Working Group

The Policy and Performance Working Group (PPWG) oversees the policy directions, implementation and outcomes of the Strategy and makes recommendations to the ADM Steering Committee. The PPWG also oversees the work of the Sub-committee on Evaluation and Reporting.

The PPWG comprises directors general from Justice Canada, HC, Public Safety, CBSA, CSC, DFATD, PPSC, and the RCMP. Although not Strategy partners, PCO and TBS participate in the working group. The working group meetings are chaired by the Director General of Justice Canada’s Youth Justice and Strategic Initiatives Section. Members are updated on Strategy-related issues and the activities of partner departments to develop policy directions and initiatives.

The Management Response and Action Plan to the Impact Evaluation committed to two actions for follow-up by the PPWG, including a review of the Strategy’s governance structure and enhanced information and knowledge sharing among Strategy partners:

A review of the Strategy’s governance structure:

The scope of this review was to include: the membership and terms of reference for each committee; the roles and responsibilities of each partner department/agency and the roles and responsibilities of the lead of each Action Plan. In the summer of 2012, PPWG members reviewed and provided input on partners’ key roles and responsibilities, committee memberships and the overall Strategy governance structure. Based on the input, subsequent work was undertaken to update and standardize the terms of reference of all eight committees and working groups of the Strategy’s governance structure.

Enhanced information and knowledge sharing:

In February 2013, a National Anti-Drug Strategy page was launched on GCpedia – the Government of Canada’s internal wiki – in order to enhance the exchange of information across the Strategy’s Action Plans. It is intended as a forum for federal government employees working on the Strategy and/or illicit drug-related files to share information and knowledge about illicit drugs and issues related to prevention, treatment and enforcement. The site is being maintained by Justice Canada.

Partner departments also began discussing the development of a knowledge exchange strategy for partners and stakeholders involved in implementing the Strategy.

Sub-committee on Evaluation and Reporting

The Sub-committee on Evaluation and Reporting (SER), chaired by the Evaluation Division at Justice Canada, is responsible for the implementation and management of the performance measurement, reporting and evaluation activities of the Strategy. This is outlined in the Strategy’s Results-based Management and Accountability Framework, which sets out the guidelines for the implementation, assessment and anticipated outcomes of the Strategy. This committee, which has operational-level representatives from all 12 Strategy partners, reports to the Policy and Performance Working Group.

At the outset of the 2012-13 fiscal year, SER members coordinated the approval of the Impact Evaluation report in their department. The report received approval and work began on the implementation of the Management Response and Action Plan.

Work commenced on the development of a Performance Measurement (PM) Strategy which will replace the Results-based Management and Accountability Framework of 2007/08-2011/12. The PM Strategy will guide the reporting and evaluation activities for the current five-year funding cycle (2012/13-2016/17). All Strategy partners are participating in this exercise through the SER.  

Communications Working Group

The Communications Working Group is responsible for making decisions necessary to advance communication of the Strategy; ensuring coordination of communication efforts and exchange of communication-related information among all partners and preparing the ADM Steering Committee to seek the approval of Deputy Ministers on communication matters where appropriate.

The Communications Working Group comprises directors general from Justice Canada, HC, Public Safety, CBSA, CSC, DFATD, and the RCMP. PCO is the only non-Strategy partner participating in the working group.

Over the course of the 2012-13 fiscal year, members of the Communications Working Group directed work which was carried out by members of the Communications Sub-working Group and reviewed new terms of references for both the Communications Working Group and its sub-working group.

Communications Sub-working Group

In support of the Communications Working Group, operational level officials who comprise the membership of the Communications Sub-working Group, met three times during the 2012-13 fiscal year. The purpose of these meetings was to ensure that all communications – regardless of the department of origin – were consistent, complementary and aligned with the Strategy.

To increase public awareness of the activities undertaken by the federal government in support of the Strategy, announcements and messages were released to the public via news release and/or posted on the Strategy’s website. During 2012-13, a total of eight announcements were made by Strategy partners, including the launch of an RCMP “Youth Engagement Initiative”, the coming into force of legislation targeting serious drug crimes and the banning of MDPV, commonly called “bath salts”. In addition to these announcements, a message from the Ministers of Justice, Health and Public Safety was issued during National Addictions Awareness Week in November 2012. The sub-working group also provided strategic communications support by coordinating key messages on various issues related to the Strategy.

The Communications Sub-working Group also began renewing and updating the Communications Strategy. The sub-working group provided input on new terms of reference for this group, which is now a part of the Strategy’s formal governance structure.

Prevention and Treatment Working Group

The Prevention and Treatment Working Group (P&TWG) oversees and supports the Strategy’s Prevention and Treatment Action Plans. The Working Group is chaired by HC and includes Directors General from Justice Canada, Public Safety, CSC, DFATD, RCMP, CIHR, ESDC, and PHAC.

During the reporting period, the P&TWG met twice and discussed areas of potential cooperation and collaboration among Strategy partners.

The Management Response and Action Plan to the Impact Evaluation tasked the P&TWG with continuing to devise ways to improve knowledge exchange about prevention and treatment interventions. After initial discussions at the P&TWG about methods partner departments currently use to disseminate knowledge, it was agreed that the P&T sub-WG would be tasked with developing a knowledge exchange strategy.

Prevention and Treatment Sub-working Group

The Prevention and Treatment Sub-working Group was established to identify and track the common programs and services that are offered among the Strategy partners to support the Strategy’s prevention and treatment objectives. It identifies emerging issues, explores creative and strategic mechanisms for sharing resources among the Strategy partners, and improves and shares understanding of good practices in prevention and treatment programs.

The Sub-working Group is chaired by HC and includes operational-level representatives from Justice Canada, Public Safety, CSC, RCMP, CIHR, and PHAC. Although it is not a Strategy partner, ESDC also sits on the working group; its social programs, including the work of the Homelessness Secretariat, are relevant to furthering the Strategy’s goals. The sub-working group reports to the Prevention and Treatment Working Group.

In the reporting period, the Prevention and Treatment sub-Working Group focused on knowledge dissemination. The sub-working group met three times and developed an inventory of current knowledge exchange mechanisms. Discussions began on a knowledge exchange strategy to share information and promising practices with respect to prevention and treatment among Strategy partners and stakeholders.

Enforcement Working Group

The Enforcement Working Group oversees the implementation of the Enforcement Action Plan and is chaired by Public Safety’s Director General of the Law Enforcement and Border Strategies Directorate. The working group includes Directors General from Justice Canada, HC, Public Safety, RCMP, CBSA, CRA, CSC, FINTRAC, DFATD, PPSC, PBC and PWGSC.

The Enforcement Working Group met twice during the 2012-13 fiscal year. Through the coordination of the working group, Strategy partners had opportunities to share concerns and update on activities to increase knowledge among partners, which enhances efforts to reduce the supply of illicit drugs in Canada. Some activities highlighted by members of the working group include the publication by Public Safety of two handbooks for police: Promising Practices in Policing Substance Abuse Users and Prescription Drug Return Initiatives in Canada and the successful adoption of a resolution, led by Public Safety, entitled “Promoting initiatives for the safe, secure and appropriate return for disposal of prescription drugs, in particular those containing narcotics or psychotropic substances under international control” at the UN’s Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna in March 2013.