TB Chamber – Urgent Action Needed to Address Substance Abuse and Overdose Crisis

Addiction issues need to be addressed
Addiction issues need to be addressed

Ontario Chamber Policy Brief Highlights Impact on Business, Need for Strategic Interventions

THUNDER BAY – May 27, 2024: Ontario is facing a dire situation with over 3,000 annual drug poisoning deaths projected for the fifth consecutive year, equating to more than eight fatalities daily. Businesses on the frontlines of this substance use and overdose crisis are urgently calling for strategic interventions within Ontario communities.

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) has released a policy brief titled “Beyond Emergency Declarations: Charting Ontario’s Course Through the Substance Use and Overdose Crisis.” This document seeks to simplify the complex narrative around substance use, bridge knowledge gaps among stakeholders, and highlight the need for evidence-based, community-informed solutions that prioritize public health, prevent deaths, and improve recovery outcomes.

Impact on Thunder Bay: “Here in Thunder Bay, we are grappling with an escalating substance abuse and opioid crisis that we are ill-equipped to manage. Local businesses are struggling with rising security costs and decreasing customer traffic,” said Charla Robinson, President of the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce. “This brief calls upon decision-makers to think beyond isolated addiction management approaches and urges the collection of better data to drive evidence-based solutions.”

Challenges and Strategic Recommendations: The crisis is exacerbated by stigma in healthcare, barriers to treatment, declining mental health, and an increasingly toxic drug supply. Northern, remote, and rural communities, including Thunder Bay, are disproportionately affected, facing limited access to support services and higher overdose rates. The OCC brief emphasizes the importance of comparing various strategies across Canada, such as harm reduction in B.C., recovery-focused models in Alberta, and Ontario’s continuum of care approach, to determine the most effective solutions.

Support and Next Steps: The OCC thanks its lead partner, Indivior, and its supporting partner, the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario, for backing this crucial work. To read the full policy primer, visit the OCC’s website.

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