Advocating for Change to Tackle the Opioid Crisis in Ontario

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Problem: Opioid Crisis
An epidemic has been brewing throughout Canada, the opioid crisis been increasingly impacting Canadian citizens. In 2016, there was a total of 2,946 opioid-related deaths and this number has alarmingly increased to 3,987 deaths in 2017. Since the opioid crisis has been identified, health care approaches have focused on minimizing the amount of drug-related deaths in hospital settings, however the care appears to halt once the individuals are discharged. Many emergency departments often see the same people due to the lack of community supports and social networks available to affected individuals. The revolving door approach that perpetuates the cycle of overdosing, providing temporary care, and overdosing again, is unacceptable. Although overdose prevention services have begun to be implemented in Ontario, there remains a strong opposition from the provincial government.

Solution: Nurse-Led Clinics
Some of the major obstacles identified in preventing and halting change to the opioid crisis are the harmful action of stigmatizing and the lack of government support. Influential individuals hold morals conflicting with the use of overdose prevention services, and refuses to acknowledge those individuals who are living with an opioid addiction. We believe that action must be taken to provide preventative management, treatment, and rehabilitation at the communal level by nurse-led clinics.

There needs to be an increased support system that brings preventative solutions before the addiction begins. By proposing a health care approach that begins in the community, nurse-led clinics can promote change to the opioid crisis. With the influences of nurses, there will be an increased awareness to decrease the stigma against opioid users, preventative screening methods to learn effective coping skills, and most importantly, break the cycle of the revolving door of patients.

Personal story
As nursing students in the Toronto area, we believe that we must empower citizens and advocate for change to the opioid crisis. To influence action against the current political views of overdose prevention clinics, we are targeting:

  • Anthony Perruzza, Councillor of Ward 8 (York West)
  • John Tory, Mayor of Toronto
  • Theresa Tam, head of Public Health Agency of Canada
  • Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier of Ontario and Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care
  • Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario

The power of action and change lies in each individual, and to take a stand against government inaction, we ask for unification as a community.