THUNDER BAY – News – The Ontario Government is partnering with First Nations to fight narcotics abuse. “The complexity of narcotics abuse calls for all of us to work together — and we know that the best solutions are built by the community, for the community. That’s why we’re making a long-term commitment to support the efforts of the Trilateral First Nations Health Senior Officials Committee, who have made significant progress when it comes to addressing prescription narcotics abuse in a culturally appropriate way,” stated Deb Matthews, Ontario’s Minister of Health and Long-Term Care.
“With the renewed commitment and financial backing from our government partners, we can keep providing sustained, reliable addictions services to First Nations communities, and continue developing innovative, responsive supports that reflect their unique needs,” commented Union of Ontario Indians Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee,
The province is providing ongoing annual funding to support five new Community Wellness Development Teams and to increase the use of telemedicine equipment in First Nations treatment centres across Ontario.
Ontario Government Partners With First Nations
Ontario is working with First Nations communities to increase access to care and community supports for those addicted to prescription narcotics.
“It is vital that we work in partnership with First Nations leadership and communities to address on-reserve narcotic addiction with a long-term vision. Through annual investments in Community Wellness Development Teams and telemedicine care, we can continue to work together to ensure that those who are being treated for addictions get the help that they need,” commented David Zimmer, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs
The province is providing ongoing annual funding to support five new Community Wellness Development Teams and to increase the use of tele-medicine equipment in First Nations treatment centres across Ontario.
Ontario Addictions Issues
A provincial panel of experts, including Dr. David Williams, Medical Officer of Health, Thunder Bay District Health Unit has prepared a report for the Ontario government.
The report from experts explains, “Ontario has the highest rate of prescription narcotic use in Canada. In fact, the province’s rate is two to four times higher than in any other province. Prescription narcotics are increasingly recognized as one of the primary forms of illicit drug use – even over heroin and other street drugs.
This is in no small part due to issues within Ontario’s health care system. Prescription narcotics are often overprescribed – even in some cases where there is little or no evidence to show that they are helpful. Drugs like OxyContin have also been readily available for a low cost on the street. This increases the likelihood of both use and misuse.
Community Wellness Development Teams provide mental health and addictions expertise and support to First Nations communities seeking help in addressing prescription narcotic addiction by blending tradition and cultural practices. Using new telemedicine equipment will allow providers to conference with patients in remote communities to enhance addictions treatments.
Improving access to mental health and addictions services in First Nation communities supports Ontario’s Mental Health and Addictions Strategy, and is part of The Way Forward in building a strong economy and a fair society for all Ontarians.
- Learn more about the work of the Trilateral First Nations Health Senior Officials Committee.
- Find out about Open Minds, Healthy Minds, Ontario’s comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy.
- Read the report by the Expert Working Group on Narcotic Addiction: The Way Forward: Stewardship for Prescription Narcotics in Ontario.
- Learn more about Ontario’s Narcotics Strategy.