The Drug Strategy Network of Ontario (DSNO) represents 43 drug strategies across the province and have developed a series of three fact sheets advocating for an end to the drug poisoning crisis.
Overall, the DSNO is amplifying the recommendations made by Health Canada's Expert Task Force on Substance Use (2021), which calls for (among other recommendations), the development and implementation of a single public health framework with specific regulations for all psychoactive substances, including currently illegal drugs as well as alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis. This framework should aim to minimize the scale of the illegal market, bring stability and predictability to regulated markets for substances, and provide access to safer substances for those at risk of injury or death from toxic illegal substances.
Fact Sheet 1: Addressing the drug poisoning crisis in Ontario
This fact sheet (attached) presents an overview of the costs and harms (both human costs and costs to society) of continuing with the current approach to drug policy.
To summarize: In 2021, an average of 8 people per day died from opioid poisoning in Ontario. In Canada, this rate is 21 people per day. The death toll in Ontario increased by 232% from 2016-2021, with higher rates of death in the North. We know that the death toll represents only a tip of the iceberg of the real costs to individuals, families, and communities. In the absence of drug policy reform (as outlined above), some activities are suggested to reduce costs and harms for communities.
Fact Sheet 2: Understanding how the unregulated opioid supply impacts the drug poisoning crisis in Ontario
This fact sheet (attached) presents data from Toronto's Drug Checking Service (TDCS) which demonstrate that at the root of the drug poisoning crisis is an increasingly contaminated, increasingly toxic and unpredictable opioid supply - that is what is killing people. (view a recent presentation from Karen McDonald of TDCS here).
Some questions for personal or collective reflection are provided.
Fact sheet 3: Actions municipalities can take to influence provincial and federal drug policies and practices
This fact sheet (attached) outlines actions municipalities can take to influence drug policies so that substance use issues are addressed from a health-based lens. The DSNO calls on municipalities to take action to end the drug poisoning crisis, and provides a non-exhaustive list of potential actions to choose from.
(Please note - the pdf is interactive so will need to be downloaded to access some of the attached content).
Please visit the DSNO website (here) to find the French and word versions of the fact sheets.