Motion: Opioid crisis harm reduction

Moved by / Motion de: Councillor J. Leiper

Seconded by / Appuyée par: Councillor C. McKenney

WHEREAS the opioid crisis is one of the largest public health emergencies of our lifetime, with a death on average about every two hours and a death toll of 21,174 in the last five years (January 2016 to December 2020); and,

WHEREAS other countries have significantly reduced drug-related fatalities with reforms such as legal regulation of illicit drugs to ensure safe supply and decriminalization for personal use; and,

WHEREAS the federal government has indicated it is premature to discuss these measures until there are comprehensive supports for people to get well; and,

WHEREAS supports are needed, but measures that save lives are essential if people are to survive and access supports; and,

WHEREAS the Ontario’s Big City Mayors have called on the federal government to decriminalize controlled substances and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has stated that they agree the evidence suggests “decriminalization for simple possession as an effective way to reduce the public health and public safety harms associated with substance use”, causing the government to indicate that it is now “deliberating” over decriminalization; and,

WHEREAS the overdose crisis rages, showing few signs of abating, including in Ottawa which had 127 opioid-related deaths in 2020 – an increase of 95 percent from a year earlier.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that Ottawa City Council direct Mayor Watson to write on its behalf to the Government of Canada requesting that it declare the overdose crisis a national public health emergency so that it is taken seriously and funded appropriately; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Council request that the Government of Canada immediately seek input from the people most affected by this crisis and meet with provinces and territories to develop a comprehensive, pan-Canadian overdose action plan, which includes comprehensive supports and full consideration of reforms that other countries have used to significantly reduce drug-related fatalities and stigma, such as legal regulation of illicit drugs to ensure safe supply of pharmaceutical alternatives to toxic street drugs, and decriminalization for personal use.

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