This week at City Council and Community and Protective Services Committee, Mayor Jim Watson and Emergency & Protective Services General Manager and Chief Anthony Di Monte provided overviews on Ottawa’s efforts in addressing the ongoing issue of opioid misuse in the City.
As Chair of Ottawa’s Board of Health, I would like to reiterate these efforts and provide my appreciation to all of the hardworking emergency services and public health employees who are working diligently each and every day in the prevention of overdoses.
As mentioned by Mayor Watson, we need to work together as a community if we hope to end this public health crisis. Municipalities are increasingly engaged with federal and provincial governments on developing strategies on how best to resolve the issue. Community members must also play a significant role in talking about the issue with their loved ones who may be at risk.
Our response must be multi-faceted as there is no single overnight solution to address illicit opioid use. A range of approaches must be utilized including education, communication, intervention, and remediation. Ottawa Public Health (OPH) leads a group of community partners called the Ottawa Overdose Prevention and Response Task Force that together, work to prevent overdoses in our communities. Members of the task force include Ottawa Public Health, Ottawa Paramedic Services, Ottawa Police Service, Ottawa Fire Services, OC Transpo, The Ottawa Hospital, The Royal Ottawa Hospital, Montfort Hospital, Queensway Carleton Hospital, The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, Rideauwood Addictions and Family Services, The Office of the Regional Coroner, Coalition of Community Health and Resource Centres, Respect Pharmacy, Champlain Local Health Integration Network, Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre, Ottawa Carleton Pharmacist Association, Direction de santé publique, Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l’Outaouais.
One of the measures being taken to achieve this is providing education and resources regarding the administering of naloxone to the City’s emergency services including police services and all 45 Ottawa fire stations. While OPH and partners are working on the front lines with education, emergency services continue working behind the scenes in tackling the root of the problem in their fight to stop the production and importation of illicit street drugs.
With the summer comes new risks but with your active engagement, Ottawa can be prepared. Ottawa Public Health is working with security companies and festival organizers to provide valuable “party safe” information to reduce the risk of accidental overdose. Additionally, over 100 local pharmacies are distributing free naloxone kits with information on how to administer should you find yourself in an at-risk situation this summer. For more information on naloxone, click here. For a list of participating pharmacies, click here.