Pubdate: Wed, 09 Aug 2017
Source: Standard Freeholder (Cornwall, CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Cornwall Standard Freeholder
Author: Hugo Rodrigues
Page: A6


Is Cornwall gripped by the fentanyl-driven opioid crisis swallowing
other Canadian communities or not?

It's been difficult to get clarity on this question in recent months,
made no clearer by a media release issued by the Eastern Ontario
Health Unit late last week.

The EOHU is concerned recent reporting on fentanyl and the increasing
availability of naloxone kits in our community has suggested there is
no problem with opioid abuse in our communities. It told us the EOHU
has tracked 35 opioid-related deaths in the area from 2010-15, which
would put us with a rate among the highest in Eastern Ontario.

Despite the age of this data - the illicit fentanyl crisis was only
beginning to spread from B.C. eastwards in 2015 - at least it's data.

As we've attempted to define whether there is an opioid crisis in
Cornwall and area in the last few months, any quantifiable data has
been hard to come by. Even anecdotal data hasn't stood up to

As naloxone became available in all local English-language high
schools and Catholic elementary schools this spring, we again
attempted to get data on whether this was just an abundance of caution
or whether the fentanyl-driven crisis seen in an increasing number of
Canadian communities had reached Cornwall.

We did the same last week, as the Cornwall Fire Department announced
its staff members would be carrying the anti-overdose drug in their
medical-response kits. We didn't have comment from the EOHU in that
coverage, but did from Cornwall SDG paramedics, who confirmed we're
not in the midst of the crisis seen in other nearby

The fire department's training was politicized by Cornwall Coun. Mark
MacDonald, whose opinion is the fire service should apparently only
respond to fire-related calls and nothing else.

We are not - so far as anyone is disclosing - in a situation where 10
or more people per week are being treated for opioid overdoses in our
three hospitals. Thankfully.

But this publication has never suggested there isn't an opioid problem
in our communities. We know opiates, including fentanyl, are present -
either in street trade from prescription painkillers or illicitly sourced.

We're not sensationalizing this story - an increase in deaths by drug
abuse is sensational enough on its own - but we can't report on it
accurately and fairly without data.

As suggested in a private email to officials at the EOHU, if recent
data was made available to the public, it would do more to quantify
the nature of opioid abuse in this community than anything else. A
monthly or quarterly release of this information would help us put
everything into perspective and push public officials to act
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