RNAO releases In Focus mental health and addiction web page; calls on provincial government to commit to end the opioid overdose crisis

Toronto
Aug. 31, 2022

To highlight International Overdose Awareness Day today, the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) reaffirms its call that the Ontario government must urgently respond to the opioid overdose crisis. To prevent deaths, RNAO calls for increased access to supervised consumption sites and a decreased toxic drug supply. Without preventative measures, Ontario’s overdose crisis will continue to deepen and kill. 

In 2021, an average of eight people died per day due to accidental drug overdose – an 88 per cent increase from 2019 due the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. “That is not just a statistic. That is eight people per day who have loved ones grieving from a terribly tragic loss. The system did not protect them,” says RNAO President Dr. Claudette Holloway. “To prevent more deaths, the Ontario government must urgently take a harm reduction approach that supports decriminalization of simple possession and provides safe supply through accessible supervised consumption sites.”

In response to this escalating crisis, RNAO has reissued its Action Alert today for all Ontarians to sign and share. It calls on the provincial government to end the overdose crisis once and for all. Government inaction is continuing to cost lives. 

“I live the reality of accidental drug overdose awareness everyday having lost my 18-year-old son Austin to fentanyl in June 2020,” says registered nurse Kathy Moreland, president of RNAO’s Waterloo chapter. “He fell through the cracks of a broken system.” Moreland says she is one of the many families who has experienced grief caused by accidental overdose, and government intervention is desperately needed to prevent further tragedy.   

“Harm reduction involves upstream prevention through a variety of ways: housing and mental health support, education, safe supply for those not ready to stop using, consumption and treatment services, decriminalization for minor possession and appropriate, accessible, evidence-based treatment available for those ready to recover. We must do better,” adds Moreland.  

Another way RNAO is marking International Overdose Awareness Day and sounding the alarm on the need for increased supports is with the release of its new In Focus web page: RNAO Mental Health and Addiction Best Practices Program

“In Focus puts a microscope on topics that matter most to nurses and Ontarians, and highlights RNAO’s extensive work, advocacy and partnerships towards solutions. Providing support for individuals experiencing mental health challenges and/or addiction will always be a top priority for nurses,” says RNAO CEO Dr. Doris Grinspun. “We will continue to work with our members and the government to ensure supports for mental health and addiction that take a compassionate, person-centred approach. Individuals and their families must know that help is readily available and easily accessible. There should never be a single barrier in the way of preventing death, and for accessing treatment if and when people are ready,” adds Grinspun. 

Explore the In Focus web page to learn more about the topic and how to get involved. 

The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses, nurse practitioners and nursing students in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has advocated for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses’ contribution to shaping the health system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public we serve. For more information about RNAO, visit RNAO.ca or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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Contact info
Madison Scaini
Communications Officer/Writer
Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO)