Local organizations held rallies in several cities across Canada as part of the first National Day of Action on the opiod overdose crisis. Eight cities across Canada, including Ottawa and Toronto, hosted the day of action to highlight the recent increase in deaths and harms associated with opioids across the country. In Ontario, overdose deaths have been on the rise and it is estimated that there is a death due to opioids every 14 minutes.
The National Day of Action was coordinated by people with lived experience and their supporters from numerous grassroots organizations.The actions called on governments across the country to take concrete steps to address the overdose crisis, including implementing supervised consumption services and expansion of other harm reduction initiatives. Marches and events across the country also called on governments to include the voices of people with lived experience and recognize that inclusion of substance users is central to addressing this issue.
In October, Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long Term Care announced A strategy to Prevent Opioids Addiction and Overdose. The strategy proposed three main components, including enhancing data collection, modernizing prescribing and dispensing practices of opioids, and connecting patients with high quality addiction treatment services. More information on the strategy can be found on the Government of Ontario website.
The Canadian Mental Health Association and Addictions and Mental Health Ontario have developed a response to the proposed strategy, which highlights the importance of providing individuals with addictions related issues with a broad range of holistic supports in community-based settings.