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Toronto Board of Health to discuss opioid crisis on Monday

Last Updated Sep 25, 2017 at 6:01 am EST

The opioid crisis will be up for discussion when Toronto’s Board of Health meets on Monday.

Among the items on the agenda, the board is requesting Toronto Public Health conduct a naloxone training session at a future city council meeting.

But Ward 20 Coun. Joe Cressy believes more drastic measures need to be taken and that an emergency needs to be declared.

“When an emergency is declared, that means funds can flow quicker and more proactively to those who need it. And if this is an emergency as it is, we need the province to respond as such,” Cressy said.

Cressy also wants to see more supervised injections sites created.

“There’s no silver bullet to the overdose crisis. There are a number of different issues at play here and that’s why we need a comprehensive response,” he said.

In August, Mayor John Tory held an emergency meeting with first responders, public health officials and some city councillors over the city’s opioid crisis. Among the topics of discussion was speeding up the opening of three supervised injection sites and asking local police to consider having some officers carry naloxone.

Last week, the province announced measures to tackle what has been described as a national public health crisis as opioid overdose-related visits to Ontario emergency rooms continue to sharply rise.

The latest government data show that in April, May and June there were 1,898 such ER visits – a 76 per cent increase from the same time period last year, and a 40 per cent increase from the first three months of this year.

At least 2,816 Canadians died from opioid-related causes in 2016 – 865 of them in Ontario. It is not known how many people have died from opioid overdoses in the province so far this year, but public health officials predict the number will rise.

In June, the rate of opioid-related ER visits per 100,000 people in Ontario was 4.8 – up from 2.9 in January and 2.6 last June.