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QUEEN’S PARK — Mike Schreiner released the following statement in response to a new report from the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network:

“The lack of urgency from the Government in addressing the opioid crisis is costing lives.

This is a public health emergency and the government needs to treat it as one.

New research from the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network shows that fatal opioid overdoses were up 79 per cent after COVID-19 hit last year.

We know that the most marginalized Ontarians are being affected the most severely by this crisis — in particular those without homes.

According to the report, the number of opioid-related deaths more than doubled among people experiencing homelessness, accounting for 1 in 6 of all opioid deaths during COVID.

If we want to address this crisis we need to urgently act on providing more safe, affordable and supportive housing with wrap-around mental health and addiction supports.

We also need to support harm reduction efforts with expanded access to safe supply and more overdose prevention sites. Capping the number of sites at 21 is irresponsible and dangerous.

I’m calling on Premier Ford to act with urgency and immediately address the opioid crisis.

We can’t just stand idly by and watch while our most vulnerable die.”

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