ARTICLE: Get opioid overdose prevention and harm reduction into Toronto shelters — now

Originally published on the Toronto Star website

By: Jason Altenberg and Angela Robertson

Why is it that from March to October of 2020, more than 300 of our community members have died from opioid overdose, not including five suspected deaths this past weekend alone, and their loss has been met by silence from our health leaders and every level of government?

Is it because they are people who use drugs and are judged as responsible for their own death — or do we see their lives as worthless? We need to ask ourselves these questions and take urgent action to make visible these lives lost and stop these preventable deaths.

In 2020, our city is on track for more than 450 opioid overdose deaths, up from about 300 in each of the past two years. In October, Toronto set an all-time record for persons killed by overdose in one month.

Those dying in Toronto’s 2020 opioid catastrophe are real people with lives, dreams, aspirations — and families, loved ones and friends crushed by their loss.

The loss of a life is devastating and has far-reaching effects. Each death should scream at us — that people who consume drugs are not disposable, and that we must do everything in our power to keep our community members alive.

It’s within our reach as a city and as a compassionate people to take actions that will fight this preventable and unconscionable loss of life that opioid overdoses now inflict on Toronto at a rate approaching 10 deaths a week.

Click here to view the full article on the Toronto Star Website.