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Local dollars will be needed for opioid crisis

It’s the scary truth, but the Region of Durham and local municipalities will need to accept it sooner rather than later.

In common political fashion, there will no doubt be blowback at regional council from the idea to create a mobile medical health unit in Durham, and no doubt those arguments will point to this idea as being a provincial responsibility.

However, that rhetoric absolutely must not apply here.

Sure, when you’re talking about a highway not being fixed, or rail lines not being electrified, blame the province. However, in those situations, the outcome of passing the buck is perhaps a few more greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere or a few more frustrated drivers sitting in congested traffic. When you’re talking about the opioid crisis, it’s talking about people’s lives.

The opioid crisis is no longer something raviging the west coast, it’s right outside our front doors, and has been for some time, whether we want to accept it or not.

This year, fatal overdose calls to the DRPS have increased by over 150 per cent, and most recently, Durham police seized 42 kg of carfentanil, enough of the deadly opioid to kill approximately 420,000 people if you’re counting the number of lethal doses.

There are great organizations doing amazing work in our community to help those most desperately in need, including the John Howard Society, Pinewood, and the AIDS Committee of Durham Region, but they need more local support, and they need it now, because they definitely aren’t getting enough of it from the province.

As part of the province’s massive $222 million strategy to combat the opioid crisis announced this summer, the Central East Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), is set to receive a whopping $1.62 million, and that will be divided between a number of organizations. Put simply, it’s a pittance compared to what is really needed.

For that reason, it’s time for the Region to step up and put some commitment behind battling this crisis in the Durham. And the best way to do that is to get feet on the street, and start building trust with those who need help.

A mobile medical health unit could be a perfect way to do just that.