Open Letter to the Health Minister on Toronto's Opioid Crisis

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TORONTO, April 12

Hon Helena Jaczek, MPP (Oak Ridges—Markham)
Minister of Health and Long-Term Care
Chair of Cabinet
10th Floor, Hepburn Block
80 Grosvenor Street
Toronto, Ontario M7A 2C4

CC: Mayor John Tory, Premier Kathleen Wynne

Dear Ms. Jaczek,

Toronto is often hailed as being a ‘world class city.’ We are a cultural hub that touts diversity as our strength. We are renowned for our contributions to technology and entertainment. However, we are also home to hundreds of fentanyl-related and entirely preventable deaths. We are home to a major public health epidemic.

Eric Hoskins’ recent resignation has left you as the newly appointed Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. We believe that newly created policy, such as the Toronto Overdose Action Plan, is a step in the right direction but we believe that there needs to a more comprehensive trauma informed approach, which will address the underlying causes of substance use. We advise that the following recommendations be adopted immediately:

- The establishment of additional safe injection sites and allotment of additional resources to existing sites
- More efforts into raising awareness and education, particularly amongst communities that have been disproportionately affected by the crisis
- Increased availability/access to Naloxone kits
- Reallocation of funds to increase social/affordable housing with wrap-around community supports
- Implementation of universal basic income across Ontario
- Increase Ontario Disability Support Program payments
- Create trauma informed substance use protocol to address the underlying causes of substance use

Mrs. Jaczek, we urge you to take immediate action regarding Toronto’s opioid public health emergency based on our tangible and realistic recommendations. This includes tangible action upon social factors such as affordable and accessible housing and mental healthcare. Every day without action on the part of policy makers brings harm to our city. Every day without action is a day that another human life is lost. Everyday without action causes harm. We look forward to your response and commitment to making change.