Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse

Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse

February 01, 2010 09:00 ET

The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse Unveils Resource for Enhancing Canada's Substance Abuse Workforce

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 1, 2010) - The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA)-Canada's non-governmental organization dedicated to reducing the harms associated with alcohol and drugs-today announced the release of the Competencies for Canada's Substance Abuse Workforce. The Competencies are a free resource to over 2,400 addictions organizations and 1,000 substance abuse programs estimated to exist in Canada. The Competencies provide substance abuse professionals and organizations with a comprehensive framework and set of tools designed to assess and enhance traits of performance and professionalism within the workforce with the end goal of improving and ensuring quality client care for all Canadians.

"Service providers are often under-resourced and overburdened just serving their clients, with little additional capacity to develop and implement comprehensive workforce development strategies," said Elva Keip, National Priority Advisor on Workforce Development, CCSA. "Using the Competencies, organizations can now methodically, purposefully and with confidence assess and tailor their hiring processes, performance reviews and training curricula around specific traits for high performance. The Competencies are also an excellent resource for college and university curricula."

Comprised of 18 Technical Competencies, which identify knowledge and skills necessary to perform specific job functions, and 18 Behavioural Competencies, which identify abilities, attitudes and values that support enhanced job performance, the Competencies offer a practical and effective way of identifying and achieving strong performance within the workforce.

In addition to the Competencies themselves, service providers also receive interview and performance management tools that have been created for specific occupational clusters, including: administrative support, counselling, health promotion, senior management, supervision, support and outreach and withdrawal management.

These tools enable organizations to define levels of proficiencies associated with the Competencies as related to specific job functions. They also provide a method of planning wherein managers and professionals can jointly identify areas of excellence and target areas requiring increased focus.

"The Competencies offer the workforce a means of maximizing its greatest resource-its people-through the clear identification of skills, knowledge and abilities that are directly associated with increasing capacity to deliver the best in client care," said Greg Purvis, Director of Addiction Services for Northern Nova Scotia and active member of the National Advisory Group on Workforce Development (NAGWD). "This much-anticipated resource will serve the interests of those in the substance abuse workforce for years to come and is an essential component in the overall effort to address the harms of substance abuse in Canada."

The critical need for the Competencies was first identified in 2004, when CCSA engaged in the first-ever national survey of addiction service providers. In 2005, the need was further endorsed by the National Framework For Action, where 'sustaining workforce development' was identified as one of 13 priorities in the ongoing effort to reduce the harms associated with alcohol and other drugs in Canada.

CCSA, through NAGWD and cross-country consultations with provincial and national organizations, government departments and service providers, began work on developing the Competencies. The first half of the Competencies-the Technical Competencies-was completed in 2007. The final component-the Behavioural Competencies-are now publicly available as part of the final Competencies package.

While focused on the substance abuse workforce, the Competencies can also be used by allied professionals-individuals who are not addiction workers yet who interact regularly with people who are susceptible to, or have, addiction issues. Professionals in policing, primary health care, mental health and education can use the Competencies to better assess and strengthen their ability to help those affected by addiction.

To download the Competencies in PDF format please visit:

To learn more about the Sustaining Workforce Development priority please visit:

About CCSA:

With a legislated mandate to reduce alcohol- and other drug-related harms, the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse provides leadership on national priorities, fosters knowledge-translation within the field, and creates sustainable partnerships that maximize collective efforts. CCSA receives funding support from Health Canada.

Contact Information

  • CCSA
    Rob Mclean
    Senior Media Relations Specialist
    613-235-4048 ext. 255