Two Years Too Many for the opioid crisis in Sudbury and Northern Ontario: West

MPP Jamie West held a virtual public forum to mark two years since he called for more action on the opioid crisis in Sudbury and Northern Ontario.

West was joined at the “Two Years Too Many” virtual event by local advocates and health professionals who renewed calls on the Ford government to stop ignoring the opioid crisis and to take action now to save lives.

“Two years without action on Northern Ontario’s opioid crisis is too many. In that time people have died. Families have lost their children, their mothers and fathers,” said West. “This government should have taken emergency measures years ago to stop the tragedies, but they didn’t want to invest in Northern Ontario,” said West.

“Sudbury’s per capita deaths by opioid is the highest in Ontario. We have been screaming at the top of our lungs for two years now, by sharing stories in the legislature, sharing letters, petitions, proposals, and more. But Doug Ford and the Conservative government ignored the crisis and it’s only gotten worse.”

West said the Ford government could have passed his motion “Preventing Overdoses in the North: More than just a statistic,” back in May of 2019. The opioid crisis would have been declared a public emergency and harm-reduction strategies brought in immediately. Instead, the Ford Conservatives voted it down, leaving the people of Sudbury and Northern Ontario on their own to deal with the crisis.

Darren Ransom, who co-founded the Silent No More movement in Sudbury to bring attention to the issue, shared his personal story with addiction, which he struggled with for 14 years. “I came from a great home, with great parents. It can happen to anyone. Now that I’m clean, I just want to help others going through the same thing,” said Ransom. “Last year after seeing over a hundred people that I knew, die from an overdose, including close friends, and seeing that nothing was being done about it, I knew we had to do something.”

Marie Pollock from the Sudbury Temporary Overdose Prevention Society (STOPS) talked about the need for local support. “We provide a vital service that is very much needed and needs to be recognized. We are here to meet community members where they are without judgement and to help save lives.”

West said the Ford government needs to invest in services that will allow frontline health workers in the North carry out evidence-supported work that will save lives in the community.

“It’s been over two years since volunteer-run organizations have been trying to keep people alive and help those struggling with addiction without any real support. It has been two years too many since we have lost many loved ones. Immediate actions are needed now to prevent opioid addiction and overdoses in our communities,” said West. “Everyone who needs access to mental health or addiction services should be able to get them, when they need them.”

Ontario NDP