"Canada's opioid crisis continues at a horrifying pace. The families, front-line workers, volunteers and communities enduring the worst of this emergency deserve action from all orders of government. And with an estimated 3,000 opioid-related deaths expected this year alone, the urgency of response is clear.
"Wednesday's announcement by the Minster of Health to move to expand treatment options and reduce barriers and support those fighting on the frontlines of the crisis is an important step forward. Authorizing drug-checking services at supervised consumption sites, easing legislative barriers to establishing overdose prevention sites and commitments to develop peer-driven public awareness campaigns respond directly to some of the Big City Mayors' Caucus' recommendations released earlier this year.
"There is still significant work ahead to ensure a coordinated national response by all orders of government, including municipalities and Indigenous communities. Federal leadership is urgently needed to establish comprehensive timelines, measures and evidenced-based targets for the harm reduction, treatment, prevention and enforcement responses to the overdose crisis. An intergovernmental plan must align actions and resources with the essential work on the ground and respond to the specific needs of municipalities and Indigenous communities.
"Being on the front lines of this crisis, Canada's cities have consistently called for all orders of government to be working together in a co-ordinated, pan-Canadian response to end this tragic epidemic.
"As we recognize the progress in Wednesday's announcement, we also look forward to meeting with the Health Minister to further align our actions to solve this national health crisis."
The BCMC 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.