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Simcoe Muskoka Drug Strategy

The Simcoe Muskoka Drug Strategy (SMDS) is a large partnership of agencies, organizations and individuals committed to working together to address the harms associated with the current drug toxicity crisis being experienced throughout our region. SMDS is an extension of the work previously undertaken by the Simcoe Muskoka Opioid Strategy (SMOS), which transitioned to SMDS in spring 2023.

A final report on the work implemented by SMOS can be found at, Simcoe Muskoka Opioid Strategy (SMOS) A Report on Actions (2018-2021)

SMDS has established initial priorities and will incorporate local community needs and emerging trends as they arise.

Initial priorities include:

  • Integration of the expertise of people with lived/living experience of substance use through the creation of a People Who Use Drugs/Peer Advisory Group.
  • Exploring the expansion of the local Opioid Agonist Therapy prescribing in the region, including injectable options.
  • Creating momentum toward policy change through raising awareness among partners and the public of the impact of current drug policy on people who use drugs.
  • Increasing accessibility to bereavement supports for the community of people who use drugs, their family and friends as well as those service providers who provide their care.

April 2024

The Terms of Reference for 2024 have been approved by the membership and can be found at this link.

The SMDHU Communications team have been busy creating SMDS communications products with the newly approved logo. Watch for the logo out in the community.

February 2024 

Terms of Reference have been drafted and are awaiting final approval.

The Community Partner Advisory Committee is working with Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s Communications Team, on an updated logo, watch for new branding.

The Community Partner Advisory Committee currently includes representation from the following community organizations:

Opioid Agonist Therapy (OAT) is a medical treatment for people with opioid use disorder. It reduces cravings for opioids and prevents severe withdrawal symptoms. More information can be found on Health Canada’s website:  Opioid use disorder and treatment.

April 2024 Update:

A survey is under development to help better understand the challenges and opportunities in primary care related to OAT for opioid use disorders (OUD). Many different elements for prescribers need to be addressed including education, mentoring and ongoing support.  The survey will be shared with acute and primary care providers.

Work is ongoing with some local Emergency Department Chiefs of Staff related to starting to prescribe Suboxone in the Emergency Department (ED) with the goal of building a regional approach to OUD.  This approach will include the development of standard Suboxone protocols.

Consideration is also being given to how best to engage primary care providers in this work, recognizing the need extends beyond the ED.

February 2024 Update:

Meetings have continued with local health care providers, including primary care prescribers.
Education and mentorship strategies are being considered to support primary care providers in the prescribing of OAT.

Next steps include the development of a survey to go to primary care prescribers, to identify their learning needs related to understanding and prescribing OAT.

November 2023 Update:
An education session has been provided to the Emergency Department (ED) physicians at Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie about the use of Buprenorphine (Suboxone) in the ED.

A group of physicians from across the region is meeting to develop a regional approach for starting OAT in the ED.

September 2023 Update:
Initial work is being undertaken to plan and provide education and mentorship for healthcare providers interested in integrating OAT into their practice.

April 2024 Update:

A drafted position statement related to decriminalization is under development.

Key messages related to harm reduction, including decriminalization will be finalized soon.

Dr. Kiernan Moore’s 2023 Annual Report:  Balancing Act:  An All of Society Approach to Substance Use and Harms, was recently released.  The report speaks to the importance of a harm reduction approach to address the current drug/opioid toxicity crisis, that includes Consumption and Treatment Services Sites, Prescribed Safer Supply and Decriminalization.

February 2024 Update:

Work continues on the development of harm reduction key messages, including those pertaining to decriminalization.

Some new resources have been released related to decriminalization:

November 2023 Update:

Key messages about harm reduction, including decriminalization are being developed, including a focus on harm reduction with an Indigenous perspective.

September 2023 Update:

The Canadian Drug Policy Coalition presented to the Community Partner Advisory Committee on the impact of drug policy on the current drug toxicity crisis.

Supporting materials were provided by the working group.

February 2024:

Bereavement 101 sessions are being offered, virtually and free of charge through Hospice Simcoe.  There is a session starting in March.  More information and registration details can be found at Bereavement 101 – March 2024.

November 2023 Update:

The Gilbert Centre and Hospice Simcoe are partnering to offer Grief and Bereavement Support to unhoused individuals experiencing grief in Barrie.

September 2023 Update:

Hospice Georgian Triangle – Substance Related Death Support Group

Members from Simcoe County Alliance to End Homelessness (SCATEH) Barrie have partnered and are offering a Peer Support Group for Frontline workers on the second Thursday morning (8 AM - 9 AM) of each month at Barrie Community Health Centre, and the fourth Monday of the month at Hospice Simcoe Community Support Office (5:30 PM - 6:30 PM) Bell Farm Location

Healing Hearts with Moms Stop the Harm – Peer Support After a Loss from Substance Use Related Causes

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