The Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s Policy Primer begs the question, “Are We Ready to Address Ontario’s Opioid Crisis?”

Published on
June 6, 2024
Written by
Jason Grier
Read time

Ontario is in the midst of an unprecedented substance use and overdose crisis. With several municipalities declaring states of emergency, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce(OCC) has recently stepped forward with the release of a comprehensive policy primer that highlights the urgency of addressing this crisis through a balanced, evidence-based approach. Delphic Research’s reporting on the primer’s release was ranked as one of our top stories included in our weekly re-cap, which I’ve linked here.

The OCC’s policy primer developed through extensive consultations with healthcare professionals,business owners, community leaders, and public health organizations. Input was gathered from local chambers and boards of trade, and industry-specific initiatives(such as those led by the construction industry).  The primer also drew insights from other regions, such as Alberta’s focus on a recovery-oriented care model and BC’s experience with harm reduction approaches.

The opioid crisis doesn’t just affect individuals and families; it has far-reaching consequences for communities and local economies. As the policy primer notes, the substance use and overdose crisis significantly impacts businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises. The construction industry and other high-risk sectors are particularly impacted, with a high prevalence of opioid-related fatalities and substance dependency among workers noted ​. This scenario is not sustainable for business owners who are ill-equipped to handle the fallout from the addiction crisis.

The publication of the primer comes just ahead of the imminent release of the findings of the province’s “critical incident review” of its supervised consumption sites following the tragic death of a 44-year old mother of two,hit by a stray bullet near an east-Toronto site. It’s widely expected that there view may have implications for the approval of any new sites, which have been on pause since the announcement of the review last October.

The OCC’s policy primer emphasizes the need for a balanced approach that integrates harm reduction with comprehensive treatment services, ensuring that individuals receive the support they need at every stage of their recovery journey. Given that the number of people receiving treatment for Opioid Use Disorder has not seen an increase over the last three years, it would seem to suggest that providing more support towards treatment service may be a good step towards getting that balance right.

Making progress won’t be easy, but it needs to be done. The path forward will require collaboration among businesses, government, healthcare providers, and community organizations, as well as those living with substance abuse challenges today.By working together, we can develop and implement solutions that respect the dignity of individuals, reduce stigma, and ultimately save lives.

Is Ontario ready to embrace the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s call for action?

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