May 17th, 2023

NDP: alarming opioid mortality rates in Northern Ontario demand government attention

NDP MPP Jamie West (Sudbury) is pressing the Conservative government and demanding immediate action to address the ongoing opioid overdose crisis in Northern Ontario. The urgency of the situation was highlighted by Denise Sandul, who started Crosses for Change after tragically losing her son, Myles Keaney, to an overdose.

"In 2020, Denise Sandul started Crosses for Change. It started with a white cross for her son, Myles, whom she lost to an overdose. Sandul's initiative began with a single white cross for her son but has now grown to represent more than 244 victims of this devastating crisis," said West.

The gravity of the issue was further emphasized by the recent release of the Coroner's preliminary report, which revealed alarming statistics—Sudbury, along with North Bay, Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie and Timmins had the highest opioid mortality rates per 100,000 population last year. Three times higher than the provincial average. Over 100 lives were lost to opioid overdoses in West's Sudbury riding alone.

While the Conservative government has sat back and done very little to tackle the ongoing opioid overdose crisis, MPP West pointed out that Réseau Access Network has been doing what is needed. "Since October, they have been operating Sudbury's supervised consumption site, providing essential support and saving lives daily. But, without provincial funding, there is no guarantee that they will be able to continue beyond the end of this year," continued West.

Réseau Access Network has been waiting over a year and a half to hear if they will receive the funding they need to continue to save lives. West calls on the Ford government to do the right thing: take real action on tackling the opioid crisis and fund Réseau Access Network.