Doug Ford turned his back as opioid deaths skyrocketed
Conservatives won’t lift a finger as addiction tears families and communities apart
SUDBURY – Steven Del Duca joined Sudbury first responders to announce the Ontario Liberal action plan to save lives in the opioid crisis – something the Ford Conservatives can’t or won’t do. Since 2018, emergency department visits due to opioid overdoses have skyrocketed by 143% in the area served by Public Health Sudbury & Districts, and Doug Ford is nowhere to be found.
“Opioid addiction is the epidemic that the Ford Conservatives have ignored,” said Del Duca. “It’s tearing families and communities apart – but the Ford Conservatives increased stigma for those struggling with addiction while cutting funding from people who needed it most. Ontario has got to be a province where people care for one another, ensuring anyone that experiences a mental health or addiction crisis gets the help they need.”
Emergency department opioid overdoses have skyrocketed on Doug Ford’s watch – from 9,154 in 2018 to 12,527 in 2020. In 2021, the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network found that opioid overdoses were up more than 75% since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Ontario is hurting as the Conservatives slice and dice public health care services, opening the door to private companies looking to make a quick buck. Meanwhile, mayors report being ghosted by both Doug Ford and Christine Elliott. According to the mayor of Sudbury, Doug Ford “refuses to talk and his ministers refuse to respond or provide funding that we need… [we are] not even getting the courtesy of a callback from the minister of health.”
In contrast, Ontario Liberals will:
- Reverse Ford Conservative cuts to mental health and addictions services and invest an additional $3 billion;
- Invest $300 million over four years in preventing, intervening in, and treating opioid addiction and overdoses, including in Sudbury’s Réseau ACCESS Network;
- Lift the arbitrary cap on new Consumption and Treatment Services sites and approve applications from unserved communities, particularly in rural and Northern Ontario;
- Fund 24/7 operation of Consumption and Treatment Services sites in key locations, as well as the safe handling and reduction of needle debris;
- Reactivate the Opioid Emergency Task Force, which hasn’t met once since Doug Ford took office.
- Crack down on organized crime and make deceptive opioid manufacturers pay for the damage they’ve done to Ontario’s families and communities;
“The Ford Conservatives’ response to Ontario’s mental health and addictions crisis has been cruel, negligent, and an abject failure,” continued Del Duca. “The Ford Conservatives chose to sit on their hands as overdose hospitalizations and deaths skyrocketed. Ontario Liberals will make a fundamentally different choice, putting compassion back into mental health and addictions care.”
- Among the earliest decisions made by the Ford Conservatives upon taking office in 2018 was cutting $335 million in approved funding from the mental health budget.
- In April 2019, Ford Conservative funding cuts resulted in the closure of a number of consumption and treatment services sites, over the strong objections of Toronto’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa. At the time, Dr. de Villa said: "These are life-saving services… so when you take them away, I fully anticipate that more people will die."