Toxic drug crisis, pandemic have left front-line workers struggling to cope


Zoe Dodd had just given an emotional presentation to Toronto’s Board of Health when she realized that something wasn’t right. It was mid-November, the COVID-19 pandemic had exacerbated Canada’s runaway toxic drug crisis, and the long-time harm-reduction worker was in tears as she spoke about front-line workers responding to thousands of overdoses and finding bodies in portable toilets and doorways.

“The ripple of death is grim, and it will take decades for people impacted by this loss to heal,” Ms. Dodd told the board. “We are abandoned by all levels of government, who point fingers at one another, and we are burning out.”

A couple of days later, she awoke feeling foggy-headed and disassociated from reality. Her heart raced and the room seemed to vibrate. She felt like she was in another dimension.

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