QUEEN’S PARK—In question period on Tuesday, Windsor-Tecumseh NDP MPP Percy Hatfield said that Doug Ford’s cap on the number of overdose prevention sites is wrong, and it prevents communities like Windsor from providing desperately needed services.
Last weekend, four people living in Windsor died from suspected fentanyl overdoses in a 24-hour period — and Windsor NDP MPP say that grave reality shows that Ford’s decision to cap life-saving overdose prevention sites is the wrong way to go.
“Four people died from a drug overdose in Windsor within a 24-hour period last weekend,” said Hatfield. “Some say as many as 30 other users overdosed, but their lives were saved. Fentanyl is one of the suspected causes.
“The government has put an arbitrary cap on the number of overdose prevention sites that are allowed to operate in the province, pitting community against community, while the opioid crisis continues to claim lives.”
The Ford government halted the opening of new overdose prevention sites throughout the province for months, only to then rename them and cap the number of sites at 21. Hatfield, along with Windsor NDP MPPs Lisa Gretzky (Windsor West) and Taras Natyshak (Essex) have been outspoken in calling for more resources to help communities cope with the opioid epidemic.
Hatfield said that the escalating opioid crisis means communities need more supports, not fewer.
“The new application guidelines the ministry has put forward will make it next to impossible for some overdose prevention sites to continue and the arbitrary cap will make it next to impossible for new sites to open,” said Hatfield. “In Windsor, we need a sanctioned site where people can test their street drugs for fentanyl and other toxic chemicals to avoid more horrific fatalities. We need to fill the gaps in harm-reduction based treatments. We need more outreach workers and we need more mental health and addiction supports. Most of all, we need a government to recognize these needs and to take action on all fronts.
“Will the minister commit today to answer our needs in Windsor and to do more to address the opioid crisis in every corner of our province?” asked Hatfield.