I was not able to attend the Barrie-Innisfil Candidates Forum. But I was happy to learn from the media that the opioid crisis was (not surprisingly) a topic of discussion. Thank you to all of the candidates for their input and dedication to this topic. With all due respect, at this time, I would like to elaborate on/clarify a few points made by NDP candidate, Pekka Reinio.
“We need to address the opioid crisis,” Reinio said. “It seems like the municipal council is stalling for now, and I don’t know why.” Barrie Today, October 4, 2019.
The municipal council is not stalling with respect to the opioid crisis; I think it is very important to remember that management of the opioid crisis includes MUCH more than the approval of a supervised consumption site. Actions are being taken as we speak by some councillors that address the crisis and call for better fulsome treatment options. In fact, I am having a meeting today in Toronto at Women’s College Hospital, with the META:PHI directors to discuss funding in Barrie and complementing treatment options. I will also be meeting with the Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Michael Tibillo, on October 11, 2019, to continue the discussions I had with him, Mayor Jeff Lehman, and fellow councillors at the Association of Municipalities (AMO) Conference in Ottawa this past August.
The NDP candidate said if his party was elected, they would immediatey declare national crisis on opioids, “hopefully freeing some money so municipalities can follow the guidelines of the Simcoe Muskoka (Opioid Strategy), which says we need to have safe injection sites.” Barrie Today, October 4, 2019.
I agree, declaring a national emergency on the opioid crisis, (which I proposed to council early last year), is ideal with respect to securing provincial and federal funds that will save lives. But once again, I think it is very important to remember that the Simcoe Muskoka Opioid Strategy (SMOS) identifies several pillars dedicated to addressing this crisis, beyond harm reduction.
What we have is MORE than an opioid crisis. We have a mental health and addiction crisis. Overall, I have been very much in favour of having a supervised consumption site in Barrie, but I am afraid that the discussion and debate surrounding this has caused some of our community and policy makers to unintentionally under-acknowledge the fact that fulsome treatment is really what is required to make a major change in the opioid crisis.
Any funds available should be used for all of SMOS’s pillars; prevention, treatment and clinical practice, harm reduction, enforcement and emergency management. And when we look at these pillars under a social welfare microscope, these pillars further extend into housing, education and overall health and wellness.
So what does all of this mean to me as Ward 6 City Councillor in Barrie? Well, overall I am so happy that the discussion surrounding the opioid crisis is vibrant among all of our federal candidates. I look forward to working with whomever is elected to tackle this topic and save lives.