By Julie Schultz, December 13th, 2017 in
As a community-based organization working on the frontlines in harm reduction to help reduce opioid-related overdoses in Peel region, Peel HIV/AIDS Network (PHAN) is pleased with the Government of Ontario’s recent decision to request a class exemption for Ontario to approve and fund overdose prevention sites. This action reinforces the critical need to step up efforts to address the Province’s opioid crisis.
This year Canada is expected to reach 3000 overdose deaths, exceeding the number of deaths at the height of the AIDS crisis . In Ontario, the number of annual deaths from opioid overdoses has surpassed deaths from motor vehicle accidents. The situation in Peel mirrors the broader Canada-wide trend , and as the number of casualties in the opioid crisis mounts it has become increasingly clear that strategies and action plans must include the evidence-based interventions that are quickly becoming common in other communities.
“PHAN staff and peers are working on the frontlines of this crisis to save lives in our community. We are witnessing firsthand the detrimental toll of the opioid crisis in Peel,” said Phillip Banks, Peel HIV/AIDS Network. “PHAN welcomes this critical development in the provincial strategy to address the opioid crisis, and we look forward to engaging with community members, elected officials, and other key stakeholders as we work towards implementing overdose prevention sites in the region.”
As a health and social service organization, PHAN has taken a leadership role in addressing the needs of people who use drugs in Peel Region. We advocate for community-informed policies and health measures that reduce drug related harms. Services are provided by a dedicated team of harm reduction experts and include: needle and safer inhalation kit distribution; leadership in the development of a regional drug strategy; Naloxone training and distribution; and participation in the regional Opiate Use Surveillance Group. On December 1st, PHAN hosted We Can Save Lives, an educational overdose prevention site exhibit that promoted productive discourse around the benefits of providing emergency first aid in the event of an opioid overdose.
About Peel HIV/AID S Network (PHAN)
For more than two decades, PHAN has worked to improve the health, wellbeing, and prosperity of some of Peel region’s most marginalized communities. Through support, advocacy, and education, the agency strives to lessen the influence of stigma on the communities it serves, which principally includes people living with HIV, LGBTQ+ communities, African Caribbean Black communities, people who use drugs, and sex workers.