Province’s first and only Managed Alcohol Program closing due to unconfirmed funding

ST. JOHN’S, March 1, 2023 – The St. John’s Status of Women Council (SJSWC) is winding down its Managed Alcohol Program (MAP) after 2 successful years of operations. The program was supported by the federal government through the pilot period, with the intention to hand it over to the provincial government to fund long-term. Unfortunately, without confirmed operational funding from the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, MAP has one month before the federal contract runs out. 

At this critical stage, MAP is working to support program participants  to manage harms without the long-term stability of this essential program. 


The SJSWC’s MAP, a program which was recently awarded the Council of the Federation of Premier’s award for Innovation in Mental Health and Addictions Care, is  the only non-abstinence based treatment option for people who drink in the province.  MAP staff have been working to expand MAP services beyond the community served by the SJSWC, encouraging and training other agencies and regions to implement their own program towards provincial expansion. Unfortunately, without funding, this expansion is not possible.  

The pilot period has been a time of growth, seeing the completion of local and national research, ongoing participation evaluation, learning from people with lived and living experience of substance use, the development of a peer support program, and more. 

The value of  managed alcohol programs is illustrated by being noted as a key strategy in the Newfoundland and Labrador Alcohol Action Plan.  Unfortunately, without operational funding for managed alcohol programs, it remains unlikely that the province will reach its predetermined health and harm reduction goals as outlined in the plan. 

This program, by design, is a partnership between healthcare and community. However, the precarity of community funding structures is incompatible with uninterrupted delivery of treatment services such as MAP. Healthcare providers can continue to prescribe safe alcohol to those most impacted by its harms, but as of March 31st there will be no one in this province to provide it. 


To be responsible with and accountable to participants, the program has begun wrapping up services with people who rely on the program for their daily prescribed supply of alcohol, one to one support with staff, and social supports that come along with participation in the program. 

The end of the program means that the stability and progress that these individuals have worked towards during their time in the program will be disrupted. For such individuals who previously consumed non-beverage alcohol products, regularly stole their supply, or traded for alcohol in unsafe situations, this will mean a lack of safe choices for them to avoid withdrawal. The focus of an alcohol program that is managed is to offer safe alcohol consistently to increase stability- even a one-day service interruption can have serious physical and mental consequences to participant’s wellbeing. 

The Coordinator of the Managed Alcohol Program, Becky Fleming, notes the key risks as the program closes: “Allowing this program to lapse or end is doing a great disservice to those most marginalized in our communities. Creating conditions of inconsistency in harm reduction supports disrupts the continuum of essential services, exacerbates serious health risks, and increases unnecessary vulnerability for people that rely on these services.” 

With MAP facing closure, the experience and knowledge needed to continue this work in the province would be lost. The program continues to await the results of a funding proposal that has been submitted to the province. 




For more information or to arrange for interviews, please contact:

Lisa Faye
Executive Director
St. John’s Status of Women Council
709 753 0220

Becky Fleming
Harm Reduction Coordinator
St. John’s Status of Women Council
709 753 0220