Where the parties stand: On the opioid crisis

From the TVO Today article

Opioids have killed almost 10,000 people in Ontario over the past five years, according to data from Ontario’s Office of the Chief Coroner. Nearly 3,000 people died of confirmed or probable opioid-related causes in 2021 alone — a figure that equates to roughly eight people per day — the highest rate of fatal opioid overdoses ever recorded in the province. 

Opioid-related deaths have been on the rise in Ontario for more than a decade, but there has been a “significant rise” in unintentional opioid-related deaths during the pandemic, according to a January report from Public Health Ontario. The report says this is due in part to increased social isolation and reduced access to health-care services and community-based programs for people who use drugs.

Experts say more can be done to reduce fatalities and manage the province’s ongoing opioid crisis.

The issue

“We can’t forget that behind these numbers are the lives of people that have been lost, often very early in life, from an avoidable cause,” says Tara Gomes, a researcher with Unity Health Toronto. 

The PHO report compares two separate time periods: the pre-pandemic period from March 17, 2019, through to December 31, 2019, in which 1,017 people in Ontario died from opioid-related causes; and the pandemic period, from March 17, 2020, to December 31, 2020, in which that number jumped to 1,808. 

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