Pubdate: Fri, 30 Jun 2017
Source: Record, The (Kitchener, CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Metroland Media Group Ltd.
Author: Johanna Weidner
Page: B8


WATERLOO REGION - Provincial funding worth $250,000 will allow the
Region of Waterloo to hire 2.5 full-time staff to focus on the opioid

"So far that's all the information we have. We're still waiting for
more details," medical officer of health Dr. Liana Nolan told regional
council at a Wednesday meeting.

The money comes out of the new Ontario opioid strategy announced last
October by the Minister of Health and Long Term Care, Dr. Eric Hoskins.

Every board of health is getting funding to hire more front-line
workers to help communities improve addiction outreach, education and
planning while working on early warning and surveillance of opioid
overdoses, according to a report presented to council.

Under the strategy, the province also plans to make naloxone - a
medication that temporarily reverses an opioid overdose - more
available at a variety of places in the community.

"Principally, they want to expand the naloxone distribution and
education as well as the surveillance work that we're doing," Nolan

A letter from the ministry dated June 20 said the region will get up
to $250,000 in additional base funding for the new staff positions to
support local opioid response initiatives. It will be added to the
public health and emergency services budget, with no net levy impact.

Opioid use is a growing concern provincewide. More than 700 people
died in Ontario from opioid-related causes in 2014, a 266 per cent
increase since 2002.

The dangers of bootleg fentanyl - an illicit, high-dose opioid being
added to a variety of substances, often without the user knowing - is
particularly concerning, said Coun. Tom Galloway.

Police reported earlier this week that there were 35 suspected
overdose deaths in the region since the start of the year - nearly as
many as for all of 2015.

"The statistics are staggering," said Galloway, chair of the Waterloo
Regional Police Services Board.

He thanked Nolan for the open letter to the community - issued jointly
by public health, police and the school boards - warning families
about the rise of opioid-related deaths in the region, causes and
signs of drug use, how to support a child when it comes to drug use,
and what to do in an overdose situation.

Earlier this month, regional councillors approved a plan to explore
the possibility of supervised injection sites with the aim of reducing
overdose deaths and disease transmission, along with public drug use
and unsafe needle disposal.
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