This year, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care established the Expert Working Group on Narcotic Addiction
after it was confirmed in March that OxyContin would be eliminated from the Canadian market. The purpose of the group was to give suggestions as to how to combat prescription drug addiction in the province and the best kinds of treatment in the existing system.
After speaking with officials in the First Nations communities, the health care industry and community service organizations, the group issued a report and made recommendations such as health promotion, education, community development, efficient access to services and treatment and research to enhance knowledge of prescription drug usage and addiction.
Based on this report, Health Minister Deb Matthews announced at YWCA Toronto on Wednesday a $15 million program, including $12 million toward direct support, $2 million for Aboriginal and First Nations initiatives and $1 million that will be directed to expand the province’s present monitoring system.
- Counseling and treatment for addicted pregnant and parenting women
- Programs aimed to give methadone and Suboxone opioid substitution treatment
Aboriginal and First Nations
- $500,000 toward support for Aboriginals living off of reserve
- $1.5 million for Trilateral First Nations Health Senior Officials Committee activities (an additional $1.5 million from Health Canada)
Monitoring System Expansion
- Outreach maintenance for high-risk populations and providers
- Public education and awareness campaigns
- Increased real-time monitoring in front-line services, like emergency rooms
“Today’s announcement will give people faster access to to the care they need, the care they want closer to home. Narcotic addiction is a complex problem, it requires a multi-faceted approach,” stated the Health Minister. “Thanks to these foundational elements, we’ve made important progress to address the addiction landscape in Ontario and once again provide an open answer to the call for help.”
New investments are in addition to previous projects put forth by the Premier Dalton McGuinty Liberal government, such as telemedicine, surveillance and overdose prevention kit training and supplies.
“When we’re talking about complex needs, we’re talking about a need for ministries to work together. There’s no single solution to the issues that many of the people that are living here are struggling with,” said Wynne, who is considered a top contender to replace the premier.
Wynne explained that the Chiefs of Ontario report that about 50 to 70 percent of those living in First Nations communities suffer from an addiction to prescription medication.
“That is a huge issue, but I think what we have to do is not being debilitated by despair. That’s what today is about. There is a way forward, we can’t just throw up our and hands and say well that’s the way it is and there’s nothing we can do about it,” said the Don Valley West Member of Provincial Parliament.
“When I had visited First Nations communities, there’s a lot of hope, there’s a lot of determination to get a handle on these issues. I see our role of government as facilitating and supporting that determination.”