May 25, 2017

VANCOUVER — FCM’s Big-City Mayors’ Caucus (BCMC) released its report on the opioid crisis today, calling for coordinated, pan-Canadian action by all orders of government to solve the opioid crisis, which has already claimed thousands of lives and continues to escalate.

As a first step, the BCMC is calling for the federal government to immediately establish targets and timelines for the reduction of overdoses and overdose fatalities, with a progress report to be issued in September.

ʺOur first responders and community workers are on the front lines of this crisis, and cities are working together to save more lives—but we can’t do this alone. We need a coordinated, pan-Canadian response involving all orders of government,” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, who chairs the BCMC Mayors’ Task Force on the Opioid Crisis. “We are seeing this crisis impact cities across the country, yet there are no targets to reduce and ultimately end overdose deaths. That needs to change right away and the first step to doing that is by setting clear targets for reducing deaths that all orders of government work towards.

Key recommendations in the Task Force’s report include:

  • The adoption of a comprehensive and coordinated pan-Canadian action plan that addresses the root causes of the opioid crisis;
  • Expand access to a range of treatment options, including medically-supervised opioid substitution therapy, and reducing delays in the time it takes to access treatment;
  • Establish a standardized, pan-Canadian format for the collection of death and non-fatal overdose data, with minimum quarterly public reports;

All governments need to be at the table to assess how this crisis is playing out on the ground across the country. Coordination is also essential to ensure that federal funds are directed to removing real barriers to people seeking help and treatment. The Federal Ministers of Health and Public Safety committed in February to sitting down with the BCMC Opioids Task Force and provincial representatives to discuss how all levels of government can work together to address the opioid crisis, and the Task Force looks forward to this meeting taking place.

“The federal response so far isn’t reaching the frontlines in the way we need to save lives and tackle this crisis. Mayors are ready to help turn this around, but we need to be at the table. It’s time for all orders of government to get behind a coordinated action plan, before this opioid crisis spirals further out of control,” said Robertson.

The Mayors’ Task Force on the Opioid Crisis convenes mayors of 13 cities: Vancouver, Surrey, Edmonton, Calgary, Regina, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Hamilton, London, Kitchener, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. The Task Force was launched on February 3, 2017, by the Big-City Mayors’ Caucus of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
Read the full report here. 

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