Peterborough social service groups and frontline service providers are holding an emergency meeting Saturday to try to find solutions to the city’s opioid crisis.
The meeting, to be held at city hall, comes at the request of Peterborough-Kawartha MPP Dave Smith, who earlier this month reached out to organizations to create an action committee to bid on a safe and supervised consumption and treatment site for the city and area.
“Everyone is focusing on saving someone’s life,” Smith told Global News at Queen’s Park on Wednesday. “We need to move past the thought that you’re just delaying a death from an overdose.”
Groups such as Peterborough Public Health, Forecast Addictions, Canadian Mental Health Association, PARN, Peterborough Police Service and mayor Diane Therrien will be among those meeting on Saturday.
“I hope that something can come out of it,” said Peggy Shaughnessy, founder of Whitepath, which provides training and intervention programs.
In 2019, Peterborough police say there have so far been 19 deaths linked to opioids and more than 140 reported overdoses.
“We’ve lost so many people that no longer have a voice and somebody has to be their voice,” said Shaughnessy.
WATCH: Opioid crisis taking its toll on Peterborough families
The city and county are hosting an opioid summit next month. Therrien says a united effort is needed to address the escalating crisis.
“This is an all-hands-on-deck situation,” she said. ‘This isn’t something that any one agency or any one individual can tackle on their own.”
At a town hall meeting earlier this month, Smith said he will do everything he can to bring some solutions to the table, most notably securing a supervised consumption and treatment centre.
Shaughnessy, meanwhile, says the centre is essential.
“How many people do we have to bury and whose shoulders is the next death on?” she said.
“There is a need for a consumption site so people can be watched closer.”
Smith says 15 sites have been approved in Ontario over the past 12 months with an opportunity for another six to be approved.
“If we can get all the elements together, I think it’s something I can advocate very strongly for – for our community,” he said.
WATCH: Peterborough emergency responders address 13 overdoses, 2 deaths in 72 hours