Our Guiding Principles

Vision statement:  

The HKLN Drug Strategy strives for supportive and safe environments that promote the health and resiliency of individuals, families and communities, and reduce the harms and stigma associated with substance use.


The guiding principles listed below are action-oriented statements reflecting the fundamental values that guide the collaborative efforts of the HKLN Drug Strategy and work toward the Drug Strategy’s vision of fostering healthy environments. These guiding principles underpin the four pillars approach, used most commonly in drug strategies, and are aligned with many key principles suggested by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) to guide drug strategy planning efforts. The guiding principles are: collaborative; evidence-informed;  inclusive and accessible; locally relevant; and sustainable.


The HKLN Drug Strategy recognizes that strong partnerships are the foundation for success, especially when it comes to responding to the complex underlying factors that shape substance use in our communities. We need to call upon the expertise and strengths of many stakeholders, organizations, and individuals directly affected by substance use to develop a comprehensive approach to addressing substance-use related harms. We will do this by building upon knowledge, developing relationships through collaborative networking, and fostering integrated service environments that increase the community’s access to necessary services.


Being evidence-informed ensures that the HKLN Drug Strategy is using the most up-to-date information and best practices to ensure that community priorities will be undertaken in ways that are most effective, efficient, and equitable. This will ensure that the Drug Strategy remains strategic in recommending interventions shown to be effective with reducing the harms associated with substance use.

Having programs and decision-making processes that are “evidence-informed” implies that agencies are considering the best available evidence from a broad range of information and sources when delivering its program activities. Policy and decision-making processes can be influenced by economic constraints, community views, organizational priorities, and the political environment; however, without the support of good evidence, these factors are an insufficient basis for decisions that affect the lives of people and communities. Good evidence can be found in many sources, including evidence reviews, program evaluations, scientific research, expert opinion, and peoples lived experiences.

Inclusive and Accessible

This guiding principle recognizes the importance of equitable access to information, opportunities, support, and programs and services, regardless of whether an individual uses alcohol, other drugs or substances. As a Drug Strategy, this means employing effective communication strategies and ensuring that all initiatives led by the Strategy consult and engage with members of the community. The HKLN Drug Strategy also recognizes the needs of each county are unique, and that geographical location can often influence the availability and access to necessary resources. With this understanding, the Drug Strategy strives to engage community members and service providers in each of the three counties to ensure that priorities are defined appropriately and initiatives are implemented equitably.

Locally Relevant
Since the Drug Strategy is collaborative and serves a geographically diverse area, it is important that the objectives and initiatives of the Drug Strategy continually work with community members and service providers in each of the 3 counties. This means providing opportunities for consultation and collaborative implementation to ensure that initiatives and objectives are locally relevant and that projects equitably engage and include members of the community.

The partnerships that make up the HKLN Drug Strategy are diverse in nature and include representatives from harm reduction, prevention, treatment, justice, and enforcement, as well as municipalities, peers with lived experience of substance use, Indigenous organizations, and research and evaluation experts. Together we hope to develop a shared vision of promoting health and resiliency, while reducing the harms and stigma associated with substance use. By acting on a common agenda, we work towards developing integrated and inclusive service environments, and toward building effective, long-term coalitions that can be sustained, even beyond funding constraints.

1 Piscitelli, A. (2017). Practice Guidelines: Learning from Ontario’s municipal drug strategies: an implementation framework for reducing harm through coordinated prevention, enforcement, treatment, and housing. Journal of Community Safety & Well-being, 2(2)

2 Sarkies, M. N., Bowles, K., Skinner, E. H., Haas, R., Lane, H., & Haines, T. P. (2017). The effectiveness of research implementation strategies for promoting evidence-informed policy and management decisions in healthcare: A systematic review. Implementation Science, 12(1), 1-20. doi:10.1186/s13012-017-0662-0

3 Frieden, T. R. (2014). Six components necessary for effective public health program implementation. American Journal of Public Health, 104(1), 17-22. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2013.301608