Halton Regional Council seeks to address the opioid crisis in Halton communities

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Yesterday, Halton Regional Council unanimously passed a resolution calling on the Federal Government and Government of Ontario to work collaboratively with the Region of Halton, Halton Regional Police Service, Halton Region Public Health, first responders and community organizations to develop a long-term and comprehensive strategy to address the opioid crisis in our communities with an emphasis on: harm reduction, treatment and prevention, while maintaining enforcement.

“The opioid crisis requires the cooperation of multiple agencies across different sectors, levels of government and the community,” said Oakville Mayor Rob Burton, who is also the Chair of the Halton Police Board.

“When I go to national security conferences in Ottawa, the Police Chiefs and Chairs of police boards from across the country speak about how much the police would like to get out of dealing with things that are not crime. And this is a chance for the other levels of government to hear us and avoid adding non-crime work to the police. When you leave it to the police you’re sending the most expensive possible responder and it just doesn't make sense.”

The number of opioid-related deaths is expected to increase by 50 per cent in Ontario from 2019 according to a report by the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network, the Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario/Ontario Forensic Pathology Service, Public Health Ontario, and the Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation.

In Canada, there were 1,018 opioid-related deaths during the first three months of 2020, 96 per cent of which were accidental and more than 16,000 in the previous four years, representing an opioid addiction and overdose emergency that affects municipalities across the province and country.

Mayor Burton moved the motion, which was seconded by Ward 5 Town and Regional Councillor Jeff Knoll, who is the Vice-Chair of the Halton Police Board.

“This resolution is an extremely important resolution and unfortunately in light of the public health crisis that we are dealing with, sometimes these things get lost. I think it's important to draw attention to it and read the numbers carefully in this resolution because those numbers are stunning, that we could see a 50 per cent increase by the end of 2020,” said Councillor Knoll. “We really need a coordinated response from all levels of government to address this issue.”

The Provincial Report is available on the Public Health Ontario website.