PAD’s 2015-2016 Annual Report now available













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Notice of AGM

Notice of
2016 Annual General Meeting of Parent Action on Drugs
Monday, September 26, 2016
6:30 p.m.
North York Civic Centre, Committee Room #1
5100 Yonge Street, Toronto M2N 5V7



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Important Changes at PAD – Parent Action on Drugs

Parent Action on Drugs is pleased to share some exciting news about changes within our organization. As of May, 2016, Joanne Brown has assumed the role of Executive Director.  Joanne has been at PAD for over 25 years, in the roles of Program Director and Lead for PAD within HC Link.  Joanne will be applying her extensive management experience and health promotion knowledge to provide leadership for PAD as we continue to deliver evidence-based, innovative and responsive service within the substance misuse prevention field.

To complement Joanne’s new role, we are also pleased to announce that Jane McCarthy has joined PAD as Manager of Program Development.  Jane has over 25 years’ experience in the health promotion field, following completion of her Master of Public Health degree from the School of Public Health at UCLA and Master of Science, Health Behaviour from the University of Waterloo.  Her experience in the health charity sector has been as the Director of Services and Education with the ALS Society of Canada, and with The ALS Association, National Office in the U.S.  Most recently Jane has completed a contract role within the William Osler Health System.

Diane Buhler, PAD’s previous Executive Director for over 25 years, will remain on board at PAD in a consultative role to assist in the transition process as she works her way to full retirement in the fall.

The PAD team looks forward to our continuing work with partners, stakeholders and supporters to further our shared vision of healthy and informed youth, families and communities.

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PAD’s SFPY program featured in United Nations commissioned study on global “good practice” programs

After a long process, PAD’s Strengthening Families for Parent and Youth (SFPY) program has been selected as a global good practice in a report published by the American University of Beirut (AUB).


In March 2014, the UN Inter Agency Technical Task Team on Young People (UNIATTTYP) for the Middle East and North Africa/Arab States, began a process to document good and promising practices in adolescent and youth. The geographic focus was the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, but the project also looked at programs globally in order to recommend some “best buys” in adolescent programming that could be applied in the MENA region.

This project was spearheaded by UNICEF MENARO, who had partnered with the Outreach and Practice Unit (OPU) of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the American University of Beirut. The age group the project focused on was 12-24 year olds, and thematic areas included employability, social protection, civic engagement, and health (among many others).

The process

The first phase was research on the part of AUB, who selected a few of PAD programs that could be considered good/best practices for youth aged 12-24. PAD’s programs were among the 169 potential good practices that the AUB had found regionally and globally. After looking at several of PAD’s programs, the AUB decided to focus on PAD’s SFPY program.

Second, the programs were rated based on a number of criteria: Effectiveness, Sustainability, Replication, Equity Analysis, Evidence-based, Innovation, Values Orientation, Youth Involvement. The SFPY program met this criteria and was selected as a potential good practice.

To validate the research made by AUB to this point, PAD participated in an in-depth interview about the SFPY program, where we shared more details with the researchers.

After the interview, the SFPY program was deemed by AUB to still meet the criteria listed above, and the researchers completed a report that explained the various aspects of the program.

The entire process above took around 8 months. After 8 months, the final stage of the process was for PAD to “validate” the write-up by the researchers. PAD and AUB had a back-and-forth consisting of report edits, and a few months later we were asked to provide some photos of the program.


Last month, we were contacted by AUB who had finalized the report. After such a long process, it was exciting for us to see the final result. The AUB did a great job at summarizing the key aspects of the program and why it is considered a “good practice”. It’s interesting to see that a Canadian-based program has potential for global audiences as well!

To read the full report, click here.

To see the other programs featured by the AUB, click here.

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PAD to have a donation coin box at Ontario LCBO stores: April 24 – May 21

Parent Action on Drugs Communique

PAD to have a donation coin box at Ontario LCBO stores from April 24 – May 21, 2016

From Sunday April 24th to Saturday May 21st, 2016, Parent Action on Drugs will have a donation coin box on the counters of all 630 LCBO stores in Ontario.

PAD is a leader in providing Ontario teens with relevant information about alcohol and other drugs for over 30 years.  PAD develops and disseminates a range of programs and resources for parents, youth, educators, health promoters and communities. We aim to reduce the harms associated with the use of alcohol and other drugs through increasing informed decision-making and building resiliency among youth.

Examples of how PAD raises awareness about underage drinking:


We encourage you to look for our coin box on LCBO counters from April 24th to May 21st and make a donation.

Please share this with your networks and encourage them to spread the word.

For more information on PAD’s programs and resources, visit or call us at 416-395-4970.
Thank you for your support!

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PAD Blog: Policy Talk – An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse recently released a free online learning module to help better understand thePortfolio of Canadian Standards for Youth Substance Abuse Prevention — a resource that guides teams on how they can improve their prevention work in the area of substance abuse.

I had the opportunity to go through the online learning module, and found it concise, informative, evidence-based, and interactive.

The module provides tools to help professionals in various sectors prevent youth substance abuse. It encourages the user to recognize that regardless of what sector they are working in, the work we all do as community service providers plays a role in substance abuse prevention. The module recognizes the importance of setting a strong foundation in the “youth years”.

The module also explains risk factors that youth are exposed to when growing up (ex. Conflict with the law, relationship issues, mental illness, etc.), as well as protective factors, noting the importance of minimizing the former and promoting the latter. CCSA also notes that substance abuse prevention does both of these things.

I have to admit, the discussion about risk and protective factors reminded me of Parent Action on Drugs’ Strengthening Families for Parents and Youth program, which is an evidence-based, preventative program that promotes youth resiliency.

What interested me the most in the module was the data on costs associated with substance abuse. In 2006, Canada spent almost $40 billion on substance abuse. These costs were often associated with healthcare, law enforcement, and the court system. I also found it interesting that 30% of charges in violent crimes are associated with alcohol abuse use.

However, the most surprising data for me was that for every dollar spent on substance use prevention, the government saves $15-$18 dollars. This data should be eye-opening for policymakers. Two years ago, I did a project for the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing and similarly found that reducing recidivism rates (i.e. people going back into jail after they’ve been released) through promoting preventative interventions like mental health counselling, affordable housing, and employment skills workshops can also produce similar cost savings for the government.

I can’t help but think of the billions of dollars the government could save if it prioritized prevention initiatives. Policymakers need to recognize that prevention initiatives work and show results – not just in dollar terms, but also through the positive impact on society.

As the saying goes “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.

This blog was originally posted on the HC Link website at

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Infographic: Prom Drinking – Have you talked to your teen?

Prom is fast approaching, but did you know there are risks associated with prom?

The risks are not so much at school sanctioned events, but rather at the after party where there is the presence of alcohol, little or no adult supervision, and a lack of restrictions that can lead to risky decision making.

See more information below, and download the PDF version here.

Remember – PAD will have a donation coin box at all Ontario LCBO stores from April 24th to May 21. Be sure to donate!

promFINAL (1)

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New infographic: What’s fact and fiction about marijuana use


PAD has partnered with the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA) to produce an infographic on marijuana use among youth. The infographic highlights common misconceptions about marjiuana use, and contrasts those misconceptions with evidence about marijuana use.

To download the full infographic, click here.

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Webinar March 22: Emerging Trends in Tobacco Use Among Youth

Vapes, Chews & Hookah: Emerging Trends in Tobacco Use among Youth

Tuesday, 22 March 2016 from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM (EDT)

While student use of tobacco cigarettes has consistently and significantly decreased in the past 15 years, there are new and emerging products for smoking and tobacco intake that complicate the youth education arena. This webinar will provide information on these emerging trends in tobacco use among young people, providing an overview of the products, current legislation and examples of campaigns that are taking action in the province. We will describe the alternative products and how they relate to tobacco use among young people, specifically looking at water pipes, vapes (or e-cigarettes) and “smokeless” forms such as chew and snus, as well as the role of flavouring in creating a market among novice users. We will consider the issues surrounding youth interest in and access to these products and the challenge faced by health educators to respond to this changing landscape.

REGISTER for the webinar on Eventbrite here! Registration closes March 17th.

Click here to read presenter biographies.

Click here to order fact sheets from the Youth Advocacy Training Institute (YATI).


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Webinar Recap: Effective peer programming on substance use for the transition years

On March 7th 2016, Parent Action on Drugs (PAD) and HC Link hosted a webinar titled “Effective peer programming on substance use for the transitional years”. Peer education is defined as “the teaching or sharing of health information, values and behaviours between individuals with shared characteristics”.

To my knowledge, PAD has the longest standing peer education programs (in the area of substance use) in all of Canada! The numbers don’t lie: over the past 30 years, PAD’s peer education programs have reached 3000 classes, trained 10,000 peer educators, and had approximately 90,000 youth involved overall. Having done a backgrounder on peer education effectiveness before the webinar, I was excited to hear the diverse, real life experiences from our webinar presenters.

Suzanne Witt-Foley (Consultant, PAD/HC Link) and Patricia Scott-Jeoffroy (Consultant, PAD/HC Link) opened the webinar by noting that it’s important for educators to focus on ‘health literacy’, and that PAD’s Challenges, Beliefs and Changes (CBC) program has information that is balanced, accurate and promotes skills practice. Patricia did an overview of PAD’s peer education programs, recognizing that the Masonic Lodge of Ontario has provided almost 30 years of support to these programs.

Next up was a panel presentation from diverse voices that have been involved in the CBC program. Both Allison Haldenby (Guidance Counsellor, East Elgin Secondary School) and Jacky Allan (Public Health Nurse, Elgin-St. Thomas Public Health Department) emphasized the importance of a collaborative approach to coordinating a peer education in schools, and discussed how they worked with school nurses, public health units, elementary schools, high schools, and students to organize, promote and deliver the CBC program.

As a Youth Addictions Counsellor at the Canadian Mental Health Association of Muskoka Parry Sound, Brittany Cober provided an interesting mental health perspective. Brittany mentioned that she often notices the youth in peer education programs form an “automatic bond with each other” in a way that they don’t with adults, and this is what makes peer education programs so successful. Brittany was speaking anecdotally from her own personal experience, but I couldn’t help but think how similar her experience was to the research on peer education effectiveness. For example, a 2009 study on peer education found that “peer educators were…seen as very credible by the majority of the participants…with the experimental group significantly more likely to find the peer educator more credible than the control group”.

The most interesting part of this webinar was that the audience was able to hear from two students who participated in the CBC program for three years: Jack Gaudette and Kennedie Close from East Elgin Secondary. Jack shared a powerful story about how he was “pushed around” in elementary school and was worried about starting high school. However, high school wasn’t what he expected – in a good way! Being involved in the peer education program helped both Jack and Kennedie “fit in”, get involved, and have fun. Jack and Kennedie keep participating in the program each year because it’s “been a blast every year”, and I’m sure their enthusiasm motivates other students to join the program. Having helped develop PAD’s youth engagement model as part of our strategic plan, I was particularly happy to see that youth voices were represented in this webinar!

Overall, it was a great webinar that illustrated the importance of taking a collaborative, multi-sectoral approach to a preventative health intervention. With drug policy staying high on our new government’s policy agenda, I am sure PAD’s peer education programs will be even more important moving forward.

This blog was originally posted on the HC Link website

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