Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is making the rounds in the province to discuss issues facing municipalities during the legislature’s lengthy summer break.
On Monday, she paid a visit to Peterborough to meet with Mayor Diane Therrien as well as Peterborough Public Health, first responders and other community groups.
The topic at hand was the opioid crisis.
“It is not acceptable,” said Horwath. “As the official opposition, we will do everything we can to work with you and get the Ontario government to step up to the plate with assistance.”
So far in 2019, 19 people have died in Peterborough from suspected opioid-related overdoses — already two more than all of last year.
“Communities feel alone in this fight,” said Peterborough police deputy chief Tim Farquharson. “We’re trying to come up with our own strategies. That’s my takeaway (from meeting with Horwath) today.”
“Children are dying. Young people are dying,” said Therrien. “We need to work on this. It’s a top priority.”
The NDP has pushed the previous and current governments to declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency.
“That helps free up resources and create a sense of emergency,” added Horwath. “The Liberals wouldn’t do that, and it looks like the Conservatives won’t, either.”
Peterborough currently does not have a safe injection site.
In an emailed statement, Mark Nesbitt, spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, said: “The new Consumption and Treatment Services (CTS) model continues to save lives by helping to prevent and reverse overdoses. It also features an enhanced and necessary focus on connecting people who use drugs to primary care, treatment and rehabilitation and other health and social services.
“Based on extensive consultation with experts, the ministry is confident the model brought forward is the right approach to connect people struggling with addiction with the care they need and deserve,” Nesbitt continued.
“Applications from interested organizations will continue to be considered on an ongoing basis, based on the previously outlined criteria. Currently, there are no existing applications for a CTS in Peterborough.”
WATCH: Opioid overdoses affecting everyone, says Peterborough police deputy chief