Ahead of federal election, group wants opioid crisis to be a priority

Christine Wingate’s son died of a carfentanil overdose in 2018 and since that day she has dedicated her life to dealing with the opioid crisis which she considers a national public health emergency.

“I don’t want another family to go through the heartbreak we’ve been through,” said Wingate, whose 29-year-old son Shane has turned to drugs to deal with his severe anxiety and depression.

After the death of his son, Wingate joined Moms stop evil as director of Ontario. Three years later – and with the federal election approaching – she is pushing the federal government to declare the opioid crisis a national emergency.

Over the past eight months, Moms Stop the Harm has reached out to municipalities across the country to formally support their efforts, calling on the federal government to create an action plan that includes decriminalization and legal regulation of drugs.

“We have stepped up our efforts because we are seeing the numbers, particularly in British Columbia, Alberta and northern Ontario, show a more than 60% increase in deaths,” Wingate said.

Christine Wingate, who lost her son to an overdose in 2018 and now works with advocacy group Moms Stop the Harm, says the federal government could do much more to help curb the effects of the crisis opioids. 1:10

Overdose deaths in Ottawa doubled in 2020

Ottawa City Councilor Jeff Leiper was invited to join the effort and he tabled the motion in City Council last Wednesday.

“If this helps push the federal government to act, I’m happy to see us take this step,” Leiper said.

Leiper says the opioid crisis is being felt in every community in Ottawa. In 2020, 123 people died from overdoses in Ottawa, about double the number from the previous year.

Anne Marie Hopkins of Ottawa Inner City Health says last year has been the deadliest she has seen in her 12 years on the job.

“When COVID started last March, we started seeing some of the worst overdoses we’ve ever seen from the start. It’s only getting worse,” Hopkins said.

Something has changed in the quality of the drug supply, she added. Take that into account with the isolation of the pandemic, and it’s a deadly combination for many.

Anne Marie Hopkins of Ottawa Inner City Health says a larger drug supply and isolation are two reasons last year was the deadliest of her 12 years with the organization. (Hugo Bélanger / CBC)

Hopkins says supervised injection sites are not enough and that additional government funding is needed to help people with drug addiction access the services they need, as well as to break the stigma surrounding addiction.

“If we don’t do all of these things, we won’t win. We won’t beat this and we will just have more people who keep dying alone because they feel like there is nothing that can be done. help them, ”Hopkins said.

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