Information on the Opioid Crisis
What is the opioid overdose crisis and what are supervised consumption services?
Canada is now fully immersed in an opioid overdose crisis — fueled by a contaminated drug supply — that is killing at an alarming rate. In the past four years, more than 12,800 people have died. In 2018 alone, this means that one person died every two hours from opioid-related causes — and it’s not getting any better.
One positive intervention Canada has made, which is currently saving lives, is the introduction of “supervised consumption sites” and “overdose prevention sites.” These critical harm reduction services:
- Allow people to use drugs safely under the supervision of trained staff and volunteers
- Help to prevent infections such as HIV and hepatitis C
- Reduce open drug use in public places
- Give women and other marginalized people who use drugs a reprieve from street-based physical and sexual violence
- Connect people to health care and treatment
- Uphold dignity for people who use drugs
- Save lives
Canada’s response: criminal or health issue?
Problematic drug use is a public health issue. It’s ineffective to deal with this as a criminal issue; the “war on drugs” has not only failed but done incredible damage to people and communities.
Instead of criminalizing and jailing people, we need a response based on public health, human rights and scientific evidence. A public health response means recognizing that people who use drugs are simply people — our friends, family and fellow community members. It would focus on interventions that protect and promote health and save lives. It would prioritize supervised consumption services.
Why it’s important to speak with your MP about drugs
Amidst this opioid overdose crisis, we need to define Canada’s response and dictate a path forward. We must determine whether we will listen to the evidence supporting harm reduction and give our family members and friends who use drugs the dignity and support they deserve. We must also determine whether lawmakers will explore options for decriminalizing personal drug use — with all the positive social and health outcomes seen in other countries.
Our political leaders need to commit to a public health response to the overdose crisis, including supporting harm reduction services. But for them to commit to this, they need to see overwhelming support from the people they represent. We need you to help us show that there is support in your community for these vital health services, and for scaling up the number of supervised consumption and overdose prevention sites across the country.
Your member of Parliament helps decide the future of these sites. By engaging with your representative, you can let them know the importance of harm reduction services to you and your community, how they help people who use drugs, and why all parties must commit to supporting them.
Your voice matters to your MP. They work for you. You can help get this important issue on their agenda. You can help save lives.