The mayors from Ontario’s largest cities are calling on both the federal and provincial governments to step in with new actions to curb the opioid crisis currently faced by many Ontario communities.
In an interview with the Toronto Star, the chair of Ontario’s Big City Mayors, Barrie mayor Jeff Lehman, urged Ottawa and Queen’s Park to decriminalize controlled substances as a means to reduce opioid poisonings. The mayors’ group also recognized the value of mobile crisis teams and called for “a whole-of-community response and a whole-of-government response.”
For several months, Ontario’s Big City Mayors has consulted Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario Division on mental health and addictions matters in an effort to slow this crisis. CMHA Ontario and community-based CMHA branches across the province applaud these mayors for their advocacy and support as we all work to stop opioid poisonings and serve individuals who experience addiction.
Read the Ontario’s Big City Mayors’ position paper with recommendations to improve mental health and addiction services in Ontario here.
Intervention is required now to halt this worsening epidemic. Deaths related to opioid use are the highest Ontario has ever seen, while CMHA Ontario’s public opinion polling indicates almost 80 per cent of Ontarians believe there’s a greater mental health and addictions crisis coming post-pandemic.
The decriminalization of controlled substances, additional targeted government funding and greater availability of naloxone are all interventions that will help stop preventable opioid poisonings and deaths.
For more information on substance use intervention strategies, see CMHA Ontario’s naloxone toolkit, statement on safe opioid supply and recent statement that calls for government action to address the deepening opioid crisis.