In Ottawa, as well as in other big cities in Canada, we continue to live through three crises: the COVID 19 pandemic, the housing and homelessness crisis and the opioid crisis.
This trifecta has further demonstrated the lack of supports for our City’s most vulnerable people and the opioid crisis has highlighted the vulnerabilities of users while pressures grow on businesses and residents.
The number of opioid overdoses and deaths is driven by a toxic drug supply which has become more lethal. Traditional approaches to addictions and mental health, which often include abstinence, have proven to be unsuccessful. Newer strategies must be considered to complement existing approaches. Ongoing investments to support a harm reduction strategy that initially includes providing a safe supply of drugs, need to be supported extensively throughout Ottawa if we are going to have any impact on the opioid crisis that is so adversely affecting users and communities.
Despite this grim reality, we have seen success in the expansion of the Safe Supply program – right here in Ottawa.
In order to feel these positive impacts in our communities, the funding for the Safe Supply program must be doubled. A program that went from a pilot of 25 users to now 355 has certainly shown its success, but the need is much greater. The focus should be to ensure that everyone in need has a safe supply.
Safe supply removes many of the drug use impacts in our community. Providing a clean prescribed drug means there is no need to commit petty crime to pay for illicit drugs, no need to access from dealers, and the effects of these illicit drugs, sometimes deadly, are reduced.
The federal government needs to continue to increase the funding of the Safe Supply program, which ought to be available in all parts of our City. Addictions issues are seen as a downtown issue, but the reality is that they affect residents across our City. We have solutions, so let’s continue to fund them.