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National Drug Drop off Month – August 2022

08/9/2022

Majority of household medications are left dangerously accessible to children and youth

Recent survey also reveals that more than half of Canadian parents dispose of medications improperly, leading to contamination of communities and waterways.

TORONTO, August 8, 2022 – Canadian families have more work to do when it comes to medication storage, education and action around safe medication handling and disposal.

A recent survey from the Health Products Stewardship Association (HPSA) in partnership with Drug Free Kids (DFK) Canada and conducted by Angus-Reid in July 2022 shows that 56 percent of parents do not consider the safe disposal of unwanted medications as essential. It also found that 48 per cent of parents have never talked to their children about how to safely disposal of unwanted medications – a number that goes up to 58 per cent for parents with 11 to 12 year-olds.

As a national not-for-profit association that operates return programs for unwanted medications across British Columbia, Ontario, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island, the study has highlighted a large gap in the general awareness of return programs among Canadian parents and how they apply proper medication handling and disposal practices.

“These results reinforce the need for education around safe medication handling and disposal among Canadian parents and guardians to set an example for their children early in life,” said Terri Drover, Director-General at HPSA. “We’re proud to partner with DFK Canada to strengthen our commitment to fostering more conversations on the importance of return programs for safer communities and environmental sustainability.”

The majority of parents keep unwanted medications accessible at home

Over half of parents and guardians have unwanted medications in the home, with 70 per cent saying they do not keep their medications locked away. These factors can lead to a higher risk of accidental ingestion among children and teenagers.

Combined with the fact that nearly half of parents and guardians report that they do not have conversations with their children about how to safely dispose of unwanted medications, the lack of oversight and ongoing discussion can increase the risk of youth substance misuse.

An encouraging sign from the study shows that parents are more likely to have conversations about safe disposal with teenagers aged 13 to 19, which is mirrored in the data from the teenagers surveyed.

“Parents and guardians need to start open conversations with their children about safe disposal at an earlier age,” said Chantal Vallerand, Executive Director, DFK Canada. “When parents start to engage with their kids and have meaningful dialogues about drugs, it can make a world of difference in their decision-making. The sooner our children understand the risks and effects of medications, the more we can minimize accidental ingestion at home.”

Protecting the environment starts at home

While safe disposal of unwanted medication protects our children, it also protects our environment as it prevents harmful chemicals from leaching into the lakes and landfills.

The study found that 65 per cent of parents dispose of their unwanted medications through take-back programs, but 4 out of every 10 parents claim they still toss them in the garbage.

With 87 per cent of teenagers increasingly concerned about environmental sustainability, parents can help drive this value forward by reinforcing environmental protection in their conversations about safe medication disposal.

“It’s not a matter of out of sight out of mind. Disposing of medications in the trash or down the drain affects our environment. It leads to harmful impacts on wildlife, livestock, pets and our community,” said Drover. “Parents can highlight the environmental impact with their children at an early age to help promote safe disposal habits as they grow older.”

The survey was conducted by Angus-Reid for HPSA in partnership with DFK Canada that consisted of a sample audience of 1,015 parents of children aged 11 to 19 as well as 505 teenagers aged 13 to 19 in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Quebec.

To find a participating pharmacy or for more information on what products need to be safely disposed of, visit: www.healthsteward.ca.

About Health Products Stewardship Association

The Health Products Stewardship Association (HPSA) is a national not-for-profit organization representing over 140 brand owners and manufacturers, responsible for the effective and safe collection and disposal of unwanted medications and used medical sharps. On behalf of producers, HPSA administers 7 collections programs in 4 provinces with the support of more than 6,110 community pharmacies acting as collection sites. HPSA’s mandate is also to educate consumers on the responsibility of safely disposing unwanted medications and medical sharps before they end up in the garbage, poured down sinks, flushed or misused by others. Since its inception, HPSA has collected more than 4,221,608 kg of pharmaceutical products and 2,671,177 kg of medical sharps.

About Drug Free Kids Canada

Drug Free Kids (DFK) Canada is a private sector, non-profit organization that creates and disseminates drug education and prevention messages with the help of their partners in

advertising, research and media. DFK also offers parents valuable tools and practical tips on how to start the conversation with their kids at DrugFreeKidsCanada.org.

SOURCE: Health Products Stewardship Association

For further information, please contact: Polly Leung, Agnostic pleung@thinkagnostic.com

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Corporate Leadership: A liberator in the time of COVID 19

05/20/2021

It would be an understatement to say that the last year has been difficult for most of us, each with our own fears, challenges, and worries. Many of us have turned to substances to cope with these uncomfortable feelings, or to relieve the symptoms of an existing or emerging mental health issue.  

Drug Free Kids Canada (DFKC) supports families in their efforts to reduce the harms of problematic substance use and promote healthy behaviours among youth, and our work has never been more important than it is right now.

Certainly, the demand for DFKC’s services has gone way up. Unfortunately, the funding to support these services has not increased to meet the need, and like many other not-for-profit organizations1, Drug Free Kids Canada has been seriously impacted.

DFKC has never received direct funding from the government, and competes with many similarly modest organizations for dollars from other sources. Many corporate and foundation funders, however have their own challenges right now, like lost revenue, layoffs, and overwhelming requests for support. Everyone is trying to navigate the outcomes of the pandemic and figure out how they can move toward recovery.

So where does that leave an organization like DFKC? What innovations can we apply in order to stay responsive to need, while keeping our heads above water?

We can start by examining two common observations on today’s funding landscape from some of the top philanthropic voices of our time:

  1. Individuals want to be part of the solution. In this context defined by stretched resources, “the overall total of donation dollars [from individuals] has been increasing.” (CanadaHelps Giving Report, 2020) We know giving can be therapeutic and empowers people to help address societal challenges. Individuals seem to be responding to this call, and are in fact, demonstrating that they want to be involved, hands-on in driving the solution; they want to give more than money alone and are keen to be a part of something that has a collective impact.
  2. Initiatives that can engage employees in volunteering are more attractive to potential corporate donors, and can increase the likelihood of securing funding from these sources. According to the Harvard Business Review, “companies are discovering that when they integrate volunteer programs with their corporate giving plan, it’s good for their business. Research has shown that these programs improve employee satisfaction, foster employee engagement, and boost retention.” (HBR, 2020) Today’s employees want to work for companies that care.

These are encouraging trends in philanthropy and fit well with DFKC’s work to mobilize Canadians; after all, creating a social movement to prevent substance use harm among youth, is what we’re all about. The question for us, especially now when our work is so critical, has been “how can we leverage that fit to better meet the needs of families and communities in Canada“?

As it turns out, an exceptional mix of partner innovation, advocacy and national leadership was the game-changing solution. Enter Raymond James Ltd…

Canada’s premier independent investment firm, Raymond James Ltd is a long-time, trusted partner to DFKC, leading on some of our most valued corporate initiatives. As an Imagine Canada Caring Company, they are widely recognized as one of the country’s leaders in community investment and social responsibility, and proudly put people at the centre of their work.  Not surprisingly, they have attracted staff and associates who exemplify this promise, and they are harnessing the shared commitment to drive social change.

Nationwide from May 1 to June 11, we and our friends at Raymond James Ltd are participating in the first ever RJ5K4Kids, a signature charitable & employee engagement event developed by the Raymond James Canada Foundation (RJCF). In these difficult times, the initiative offers the chance for participants to pursue personal wellness while working together toward a common goal – completing 5K, any way to raise funds and awareness for Drug Free Kids Canada.

As each day passes, support for the #RJ5K4Kids, and for #DFKC grows, and we couldn’t be more grateful to Raymond James Ltd and the Raymond James Canada Foundation for their investment in us. It has empowered DFKC to move confidently into a phase of recovery and to enhance our work with families across the country.

In championing this initiative – which demonstrates the power of social-justice-minded individuals to make a profound collective impact, Raymond James Ltd. is helping to redefine corporate philanthropy as a force for social innovation. This is truly, leadership in action.

#RJCARES @raymondjamesCDN  @rjcfoundation

By Pauline Bondy, National Director of Philanthropy, Drug Free Kids Canada


  1. Sixty-eight percent of charities have seen a decline in donations since the onset of the pandemic – with demand for services trending upward (Imagine Canada, Sector Monitoring Study, 2020)

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