Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit Barrie Office
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Board meeting notes Nov. 15, 2017

Dec 06, 2017
Overdoses continue to rise in Simcoe Muskoka

Overdoses continue to rise in Simcoe Muskoka

A wide-ranging cross-sector strategy to tackle the opioid crisis in Simcoe Muskoka is about four months away from completion. In an update to the Board of Health recently, Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Lisa Simon said the rates of opioid-related overdoses and deaths locally are significantly above the provincial average. With 46 opioid-related deaths in the region last year — 50 per cent higher than the year before — Dr. Simon noted that beyond warnings and prevention strategies, tools are needed to reduce the risks for people who regularly use drugs due to addiction. For example, the regional collaborative strategy — anticipated for release in March next year — will help to address educational needs for healthcare providers regarding opioids. As well, awareness campaigns will continue to work toward preventing misuse, while other programs will work with people using drugs to reduce harm from use of tainted street drugs.

Among the initiatives to reduce harm, a study and community consultation is being explored around the possibility of a local safe consumption site (or safe injection site). Safe consumption sites help with safer drug use, and support access to counselling and treatment options for those who want it. Approval for such a site would be required from Health Canada after a local need has been proven.

Responding to the opioid issue has drawn in resources from every department in the health unit; as a result opioids will be targeted as an urgent public health issue under the health unit’s current strategic plan, taking the health unit into 2018.

Next Meeting

The next meeting of the board of health takes place Nov. 15 at 9:15 a.m.
in the Barrie office, 15 Sperling Drive.

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