Have you overcome an addiction?

Are you ready to use that lived experience to help others do the same?

As Canada’s Addictions Workforce Regulator, we know that connection based on shared experience is a vital part of the roadmap to wellness. We understand your past does not define your future. All living and lived experience matters and contributes positively to the continuation of the peer community. As such, background checks and related requirements have been identified as a key area of concern across the peer certification landscape, making it difficult for many well-qualified peer workers. We understand background checks may protect vulnerable populations from being exploited, but they may also act as barriers to peers that offer unique and valuable lived experiences to the community. With this, background checks are at the discretion of the hiring organization and will not be a part of the certification process. The CACCF encourages all employers and potential employers to not disqualify based on past criminality. In most cases, these experiences contribute to the available support provided by Peer Support Specialists. Recovery based requirements such as abstinence will also be at the discretion of the hiring organizations and may include pathway specific recommendations that meet the needs of the population(s) they serve.

To safeguard the peer community and those being served by its valuable work, an Ethical Code of standards is in place. These standards elevate the quality of services and are a common component of all certifications. Provisional and certified Peers are frequently required to review, sign, and adhere to this Code of Ethics to obtain and maintain their certifications.

The CACCF Defines Peer Support as “offering and receiving help, based on shared understanding, respect and mutual empowerment between people with similar situations. The terms ‘Peer support worker’, ‘peer specialist’, and ‘Peer worker’ are interchangeably used to describe a person(s), with lived/living experience involving problematic mental health and/or substance use health conditions, and who engages in activities including advocacy, providing supportive resources, sharing experiences, social and community support, mentoring and more. A peer support specialist who is in the process of seeking certification will be referred to as a ‘provisional peer support specialist’, and those who have completed certification or credentialing will be referred to as a ‘Canadian Certified Peer Support Specialist’.

For the purposes of this certification:

  • A. Peer support certification refers to “the process required to obtain an
    official document which attests that an individual has the skills and
    knowledge required for the peer support services profession. The
    document is issued by the Canadian Addiction Counsellors Certification
    Federation (CACCF).
  • B. The term ‘peer support specialist’ will be used to generally describe
    someone working in a peer support role. This includes harm reduction
  • C. The term lived/living experience is defined as “personal knowledge about
    the world gained through direct, firsthand involvement in events rather
    than through representations and discussions constructed by others.
    Lived/living experience specifically refers to those directly affected by
    social, health, public health, or other issues associated with mental health
    and/or substance use conditions, and who have experience with the
    strategies and that aim to address associated challenges.” This typically
    suggests a past connotation involving challenges and issues related to
    mental health and/or substance use conditions. However, issues may
    resurface throughout one’s life, some individuals may better relate to the
    term living experience despite identifying as being in recovery. The term
    lived/living experience will refer to both current and former challenges
    related to mental health and/or substance use disorder.

What is a National Model Standard?

The term ‘National Model Standard’ is defined as a distinct certification criterion that:

  1. Promotes quality of and consistency across peer services across Canada.
  2. Limits barriers to expanding the peer workforce.
  3. Protect the authenticity of peers through promotion of and emphasis on lived and living experience.
  4. Expand and support the peer workforce by elevating the profession & bringing provincial attention to the critical services they provide.
  5. Is based upon guidance from the peer workforce.
  6. Reinforces the scope of the peer role through distinct certification criteria.
  7. Strengthens diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) efforts across the peer workforce.
  8. Establish career pathways for peer workers and peer supervisors.
  9. Allow for lived and living experience to include criminal justice history that
    does not affect the workers ability to be a peer support specialist.
  10. Is based upon existing practices utilized by CACCF.

*Note: Reciprocity on Peer National Model Standards will permit Peers to
practice peer work should they change Provinces or Territories. *


A Canadian Certified Peer Support Specialist must be able to meet the following:

  • Documentation of 500 hours of peer support work experience
  • Documentation of preapproved training*
    *Please see link for approved training
    You can submit other training by emailing the training to [email protected]
  • Supervisor evaluation form from a recent supervisor
  • One letter from a character reference of someone who has known youand is familiar with your journey confirming your recovery of at least 2 years
  • Read & Sign Consent to Release information
  • Read & Sign Canon of Ethical Principles

All fees for this certification (including membership) will be waived starting June 1, 2023, until May 31, 2024.