About project step

project step is Ottawa’s award-winning community response to address the need for support, treatment, education and prevention of youth addictions.

United Way East Ontario, together with Ottawa Public Health, the Champlain Local Health Integration Network, the Ottawa Network for Education, all four local school boards and others have forged a unique commitment to health promotion and to provide substance abuse support across the city of Ottawa.


A community in which all youth have access to adequate, appropriate and evidence-informed support, treatment, education and prevention for substance use and abuse.


To provide leadership, direction and support for the funding and development of partnerships and initiatives related to the support, education, treatment and prevention of youth addictions in Ottawa.


project step began in 2007 because many youth in need of substance abuse treatment had nowhere to go.

They were often forced to leave their communities, incur costs, and did not have access to full follow-up support.

30% of youth struggling with addiction drop out of school.

The impact of addiction on the well-being and future of our youth is significant, and in many cases things can quickly spiral into much larger issues, such as troubled relationships, criminality, mental health conditions, unemployment, and an increased risk of homelessness.

project step is an important part of ensuring more youth can achieve the healthy and balanced life all young people deserve.

project step partners deliver addictions counselling, prevention education, and family support in 57 publicly funded high schools and three community based schools at Operation Come Home, Youville Centre, Wabano Aboriginal Health Centre, as well as residential treatment at two centres – one in each official language.

“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

Continued work has ensured widespread prevention efforts across Ottawa’s four school boards. During 2016/2017, more than 1,500 youth received counselling for their substance abuse issues, as well as 320 youth from three community organizations. 5,800 students participated in addictions prevention education activities and 2,420 parents received support through the four school boards.

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project step is made possible through the partnership of these caring and committed organizations

project step draws on the best practices and leadership of Strategic Partners including: Champlain Local Health Integration Network, Ottawa’s four school boards (OCDSB, OCSB, CEPEO, and CECCE), the Ottawa Network for Education, Ottawa Public Health and United Way East Ontario.

Service delivery partners include Maison Fraternité, Operation Come Home, Rideauwood Addiction and Family Services, Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health and Youville Centre.

Funding for project step comes from each of the Strategic Partners, along with United Way East Ontario and its donors. United Way East Ontario plays the key role of seeking new sources of revenue to support the non-mainstream community based programs supporting Aboriginal populations, street involved youth and young moms. United Way East Ontario focuses its efforts on building resources for the mainstream high school programs and identifying further areas of need in our community. Examples of this effort are demonstrated in raising awareness, building new partnerships, seeking new donors and in fundraising activities.

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
Maison Fraternite
Rideauwood Addiction & Family Services
Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health
Youville Centre

Help change the life of a youth in our community.