Council asks province for opioid crisis funding
Council asks province for opioid crisis funding

City council is calling for more funding and action to address the opioid crisis.
Timmins and other municipalities in the province are asking both the federal and provincial governments to declare a national health epidemic, as well as implement an overall drug strategy for overdose prevention and harm reduction.
In a report provided to council Tuesday night, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) is making 22 recommendations to both levels of government, which is based on the advice of its Health Task Force. Members of that group are local public health workers, paramedics, police officers and social services workers.
The recommendations follow the passing of a bill in the Ontario legislature to create a Centre of Excellence which would “lay the foundation to support a mental health and addictions strategy.”
The bill received royal assent in December.
It also trails behind the Ford government’s announcement in 2019 to give an additional $174 million to mental health on top of the $3.8 billion over the next 10 years it promised in 2018.
“Municipal services, including public health, social services, police, fire and paramedics across Ontario, are already under great pressures to keep up and combat rising opioid related harms and death rates. Local responses to the opioid overdose emergency need provincial leadership and support. The time for action to address this health emergency is now,” reads the report.
“The opioid overdose emergency is affecting communities right across Ontario. Overdoses and deaths are on the rise. It is not an issue confined to a few areas. The emergency is playing out in urban, rural, northern and remote settings. Addiction to both prescription and illegal opioids is taking a toll on individuals, families and entire communities.”
Many of the recommendations in the report are a request for funding to be put towards different strategies, one of which is to address the root causes of addiction, including housing, poverty, unemployment, mental illness and trauma.
Another is to support, enhance and expand evidence-based consumption, treatment and rehabilitation services, addiction prevention and education and harm reduction measures.
Other funding requests were made for addiction and mental health services, the enforcement of laws, diversion programs, mobile crisis intervention teams, a public education campaign and fully funded naloxone kits for all municipal first responders (police, fire, paramedics).
Additionally, the recommendations ask the Ministry of Health to establish and maintain 30,000 supportive housing units in the province, and appoint a dedicated coordinator to focus solely on the provincial response to the crisis, among other duties.
The city’s resolution endorses AMO’s recommendations and requests provincial representatives to work with the Porcupine Health Unit, the Cochrane District Social Services Administration Board, the Timmins Police Service and the city to “develop and fund a full suite of prevention and addiction services and affordable social and supportive housing.”
It also requests Christine Elliott, Ontario’s minister of health and long-term care, to visit Timmins and meet with residents and agencies to explain how the province plans to address the crisis.
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