Councillor Aldo Ruberto: “Opioid crisis should be dealt with the same intensity and resources that we are dealing with COVID-19”

Opioid Addiction - image: depositphotos.com
Opioid Addiction - image: depositphotos.com

THUNDER BAY – NEWS – “The opioid crisis should be dealt with the same intensity and resources that we are dealing with COVID-19,” states Thunder Bay Councillor at Large Aldo Ruberto. “Advocating for the decriminalization of hard drugs for personal use should be a priority for this council and all municipalities. The Chiefs of Police of Canada have endorsed this as a first step.”

Thunder Bay Councillor at Large Aldo Ruberto
Thunder Bay Councillor at Large Aldo Ruberto

Councillor Ruberto is bringing forward a number of motions on this issue to the next Council meeting.

Ruberto tells NetNewsLedger that this includes, “A safe outdoor space for individuals to use drugs, in addition to the safe indoor injection site and a mobile safe injection vehicle, to bring a safe site to the user on the streets, this would also provide much-needed supports and reduce the negative result of bad drugs on the area and those living in proximity”.
“A health care facility that actually gives out a small amount of clean drugs at low cost or no cost. There have been positive outcomes with the Managed Alcohol Program,” states Ruberto.
Thunder Bay has been at the centre of an opioid and drug overdose epidemic for many years. There is a lack of treatment facilities in the city, and often even for the detox beds, a vital first step, there is a shortage.
Thunder Bay has seen the influx of gangs from Southern Ontario who have brought new levels of violence to our city, and these gangs have boosted the levels of illegal drugs and very dangerous drugs like fentanyl which has seen several overdose deaths, and other suspicious deaths that sources tell NetNewsLedger are under investigation by police.
Ruberto in his presentation to Council is stating that, “Greater work is needed on a national level to provide the right drug and strategy to help individuals get off drugs. Methadone is not the answer for all people. Counseling and support services are a necessary part of the solution as well”.

Motion Coming to Council

As a result of the statements listed above and the concerns that have been presented to me by constituents, I offer the following motion for Council’s consideration.
SUBJECT:      Advocacy – Social Issues, Support for Marginalized People
            Committee of the Whole – August 10, 2020
This memo and associated motion is in regards to advocacy that I believe is needed for those in our community who are vulnerable.  While the City of Thunder Bay has done more that it is required to do as a municipality with work like Crime Prevention, Drug Strategy and the Indigenous and Inclusion Office, I am putting forward a few actions that we can take as a regional center in conjunction with First Nations participation,  federal and provincial governments.
It is important to state that health care addictions falls within the jurisdiction of the Provincial government and that housing is a responsibility of the Federal Government. I would strongly suggest that the people of Thunder Bay who are concerned about these issues assist the city with advocacy and contact our representatives in the Provincial and Federal Government to ask what is the long term plan for communities like ours that are struggling.
On July 20th at Committee of the Whole, I presented a motion to ask administration to work on the development of a loitering bylaw.  This did not pass due to mainly people’s fears that it would be abused by our police and that it targeted those who are marginalized in our community. I strongly disagree with those statements and positions, regardless I committed to come back with other possible solutions for our community to deal with the issues we are facing. We are out of time. Action is needed NOW. More people have died of drug overdoses than corvid,  the resources that corvid received are immense in comparison to addictions. I would like our city to immediately implement a Piolet  PROJECT that would :
•           Find a safe designated outdoor space for individuals to use drugs, in addition to the safe indoor injection site and apply for funding for a mobile safe injection vehicle, to bring a safe site to the other users on the streets, this would also provide much-needed supports and reduce the negative result of bad drugs on an area and those living and working in proximity.
•           A health care facility that actually gives out a small amount of clean drugs at low cost or no cost.  There have been positive outcomes with the Managed Alcohol Program.  This may eliminate the other crimes that take place as users look for money to buy their drugs. And hopefully result in less deaths. Greater work is needed on a national level to provide the right drug and strategy to help individuals get off drugs. Methadone is not the answer for all people.  Counselling and supportive services are a necessary part of the solution as well.
With Respect to the social housing, addictions and vulnerable populations in our community, we recommend that the Intergovernmental Committee advocate for change in the following areas as priorities;
•           decriminalization of hard drugs for personal use
•           increased funding relative to the opioid crisis that includes a national strategy and support for municipalities
•           the development of a Drug program similar to the Managed Alcohol Program for those requiring substance use support
•           greater funding for outdoor safe injection sites and mobile safe injection sites
AND THAT the Drug Strategy Coordinator and the Crime Prevention Council Coordinator, Police include information in their annual reports on how the municipality is working with partners to achieve positive outcomes for those struggling with homelessness and addictions;
AND THAT a copy of this resolution be shared with the Ministers of Health for Ontario and Canada, the Solicitor General, the Minister of Municipal Affairs,  NOMA, the Premier of Ontario, and the Prime Minister of Canada and our local provincial and federal members.
With Respect to addressing the social housing, addictions and vulnerable populations in our community, we recommend that the Intergovernmental Committee advocate for change in the following areas as priorities;
·         decriminalization of hard drugs for personal use
·      increased funding relative to the opioid crisis that includes a national strategy and support for municipalities
·      the development of a program similar to the Managed Alcohol Program for those requiring substance use support
·      the establishment of a safe public site for the consumption of a controlled substance, an area of the city where enforcement
·      greater funding for outdoor safe injection sites and the establishment of a mobile safe injection site
AND THAT the Drug Strategy Coordinator and the Crime Prevention Council Coordinator include information in their annual reports on how the municipality is working with partners to achieve positive outcomes for those struggling with homelessness and addictions;
AND THAT a copy of this resolution be shared with the Ministers of Health for Ontario and Canada, the Solicitor General, the Minister of Municipal Affairs,  NOMA, the Premier of Ontario, and the Prime Minister of Canada.