News Coverage of Opioid Abuse in Saskatchewan Masks More Widespread Prairie Drug Crisis

by Vins
Published: Last Updated on

While opioid abuse has captured media attention, methamphetamine use continued to grow  under the radar in Canada’s prairie provinces in 2019. An article published in the independent newsletter Sask Dispatch emphasized that, even though rising opioid use in the prairie provinces has garnered some public attention, meth has silently become much more of a crisis. The article reported that Saskatchewan had 114 opioid-related deaths in 2018, as well as the biggest jump in fentanyl-related deaths in the country. But despite this, opioids are not necessarily the most popular drug of choice in Saskatchewan. Sask Dispatch reported that Saskatchewan residents seeking treatment for addiction to stimulants like meth and cocaine rose from three to thirty percent in five years.

However, the coverage goes beyond which drug is more widely used, by looking into the lack of action on social support. Mental health and addictions treatment received the lowest funding in Saskatchewan compared to any other province in Canada.

When the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technology (SITT) held a Crystal Meth Dialogue event in 2019, there was brief event coverage by local news outlets. However, deeper investigations into the issue has been lacking. The articles that have been written about it focus more on the cost and amount of meth consumed by Saskatchewan residents, and less about the lack of funding needed to fix this problem.


Sara Birrell, “On the Prairies, the Drugs Crisis Is Not Opioids, but Meth,” Sask Dispatch, January 6, 2020,

Brittany Matejka, “The Rise of Crystal Meth Use in Saskatchewan,” Global News, April 3, 2019,

Student Researcher: Paige Reimer (University of Regina)

Faculty Evaluator: Patricia W. Elliott (University of Regina)