Tue. Jan 28th, 2020

Region turns up pressure on Ontario, feds for opioid help

2 min read

Durham Region is stepping up its pressure on the provincial and federal governments to address the ongoing opioid crisis.
Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter and Ward 3 city and regional councillor Bob Chapman recently presented a motion to the health and social services committee asking council to put pressure on the feds and the province to take the opioid crisis more seriously, and declare it a health epidemic.
Carter explained to regional council he is using the term “health epidemic” as opposed to “opioid crisis” due to stigma, and he is hoping to change the conversation on the issue.
The motion also takes note of several recommendations from the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO).
One of these recommendations would see the province publicly endorsing the seriousness of the opioid crisis.
AMO hopes the province will “commit to take all necessary measures to save lives and prevent harm.”
The motion presented asked, “That the Government of Canada and Ontario recognize, acknowledge and declare a national health epidemic in respect to the opioid overdose emergency across Canada.”
The motion also asks the province to endorse the recommendations from AMO, and urges the province to continue funding the work of public health units addressing the opioid crisis.
The two Oshawa representatives hope federal and provincial representatives will work with the region “to develop and fund a full-suite of prevention and addiction services, affordable social and supportive housing to address the crisis in our communities.”
Speaking to council on the motion, Carter said he is discouraged the issue was not brought up by any party leaders during the 45 days of the federal election campaign.
“It is absolutely unacceptable that we lost 5,000 Canadians this year, and nobody spoke about it over the campaign,” said Carter.
He said it needs to be declared an emergency, and he urged each member of council to “educate, advocate, and inform” on behalf of regional council.
“At some point we need to make sure that these 12,000 families impacted by the loss of a loved one [are taken care of],” he said.
Ward 4 regional and city councillor Rick Kerr compared the reaction of the provincial and federal governments to the opioid crisis to that of the SARS outbreak in 2003, which saw 45 deaths in Canada.
Dr. Robert Kyle, commissioner and medical officer of health for Durham, said millions of dollars were spent in reaction to SARS.
Kerr wondered why there hasn’t been a similar response to the opioid crisis, “when, we’ve lost 12,000 individuals in the last two years [from opioid related causes]…”
The motion passed unanimously.

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