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AMHO is Calling on the Province to Address the Toxic Drug Supply Crisis

26th Feb 2024 AMHO News

For Immediate Release

February 26th, 2024

AMHO is Calling on the Province to Address the Toxic Drug Supply Crisis

For the fifth year in a row, Ontario is on pace to eclipse over 3,000 annual drug poisoning deaths; that’s more than 8 deaths per day.

The best way to protect Ontarians from the increasingly toxic drug supply is to expand Ontario’s network of harm reduction and addictions services, and ensure the community treatment supports are available, where and when they are needed.

AMHO is calling on the province to expand access to evidence-based programs and services, including Rapid Access to Addiction Medicine (RAAM) clinics, safer supply programs, supervised consumption services, drug checking programs, needle exchanges and addictions services more broadly.

Without access to harm reduction and addictions services, Ontarians are more likely to use alone, where they become increasingly susceptible to the often harmful and even fatal effects of an increasingly toxic drug supply. Embedding services in existing settings like public health units, community health centres, and community addictions agencies, would go a long way to serve communities and save lives. Drug poisoning deaths are preventable deaths.

Earlier this month, 23 Belleville residents overdosed within the span of 48 hours due to the increasingly toxic drug supply. This is because opioids and other substances are becoming increasingly tainted with sedatives (e.g. benzodiazepines) and tranquilizers (e.g. Xylazine), that render traditional opioid overdose reversal methods like Naloxone less effective.

“Without the right supports in place, Ontario will remain unable to handle the toxic drug supply crisis,” said Alisha Tharani, CEO of AMHO. “Investing in the entire continuum of mental health and addictions services is the best ways to keep Ontarians safe.”

With only 24 supervised consumption sites province-wide (1 for every 607,000 residents), these services remain out of reach for many Ontarians. In the case of Belleville, the closest supervised consumption sites are in Kingston or Peterborough, each over a 1-hour drive away.

Research released in February 2024 by the Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation found that the overdose mortality rate decreased by 67% in neighbourhoods that implemented supervised consumption services.

Despite federal approval to expand supervised consumption services in Barrie, Windsor, Timmins, and Hamilton, recent decisions by the province have capped the number of supervised consumption sites at 24. Without a reversal of that decision, and a further expansion of harm reduction and addictions services, Ontario will remain unable to protect the health and safety of its residents.

As representatives of over 150 community mental health and addictions agencies, AMHO is ready to work with the province to see a meaningful and lasting expansion of harm reduction and addictions services.

It’s time for Ontario to address the toxic drug supply crisis.

It’s time to act.


Media contact: David Turnbull //


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