About project step

project step is a community-wide response to address the need for support, treatment, education and prevention of problematic substance and technology use among young people.  

United Way East Ontario, together with Ottawa Public Health, the Champlain Local Health Integration Network, the Ottawa Network for Education, all four Ottawa school boards, and community agencies have forged a partnership to prevent and respond to this challenge.


A community where all youth and their families have access to timely, culturally-appropriate and evidence-based support, treatment, education, and prevention of problematic substance and technology use. 


To provide leadership, direction, resource development, programs, and initiatives related to the support, education, treatment, and prevention of youth substance and technology use, misuse, and addictions in Ottawa. 


In 2007, United Way East Ontario (UWEO), together with the Champlain Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), Ottawa Network for Education, Ottawa Public Health, four Ottawa school boards and six community agencies launched project step to address the need for support, treatment, education, and prevention of substance use issues among youth in Ottawa.  

Before project step, young people in need of substance use treatment had nowhere to go. They were often forced to leave home, incur costs, and they did not have access to follow-up support. With the leadership of project step, Ottawa now has two live-in substance use treatment programs for youth – one in each official language. These sites are now supported by ongoing funding from the Champlain LHIN.

Today, project step partners deliver addictions counselling, prevention education, and family support in every publicly funded high school in Ottawa and in five community-based schools at Operation Come Home, Youville Centre, Rideauwood Addiction and Family Services, Le Cap, and Wabano Aboriginal Health Centre. The partnership also provides residential treatment at two centers through Le Cap and the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre – one in each official language. 

The school-based support, education, and prevention functions are funded by the Champlain LHIN, Ottawa Public Health, the four Ottawa school boards, and United Way East Ontario. 

“My sessions helped to say out loud what I was bottling up inside. They helped give me a sort of courage to face what I had to face and to accept certain realities… In short, my counselling made a big difference for me.” 

project step youth in a mainstream high school

Despite the challenges of reaching young people during the pandemic, project step partners delivered prevention and education sessions to 27,350 students during the 2020-2021 school year. 1,543 staff attended prevention training sessions, and 2,537 youth participated in counselling.  

project step is made possible through the partnership and collaboration of these organizations: 

Strategic Partners

Coneil des ecoles catholiques du centre-est
Conseil des ecoles publiques de l'Est de l'Ontario
Ontario - Champlain Local Health Integration Network
Ottawa-Carleton District School Board
Ottawa Catholic School Board
Ottawa Network For Education
Ottawa Public Health
United Way East Ontario

Service Delivery Partners

Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre
Operation Come Home
Rideauwood Addiction & Family Services
Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health
Youville Centre

Support project step and change the trajectory of a young person’s life – for the better.