It has been called the invisible pandemic.
In 2020, overdoses skyrocketed, with many blaming increased isolation due to lockdowns and lack of social supports. These trends have also continued into 2021, with some health units reporting increases over the last year. Moose FM asked each candidate running to become the MP of Hastings-Lennox and Addington about the opioid crisis.
Liberal Candidate Mike Bossio says that while safe injection sites are a piece of the solution, mental health treatment is a large part too. Bossio says his party invested $11 billion into homecare and mental health care so that personal support workers can manage medication for those going through an injury and make sure they are not addicted to opioids afterwards. He says his government wants to train 50,000 PSW’s, as well as 7500 new nurses and doctors. Bossio says the liberals will subsidize their costs if they move to a rural area.
Candidate James Babcock says the People’s Party of Canada hasn’t released anything on the issue, but he calls the crisis one of his pet causes. He wants the health system to do more to address the issue, and divert money from other government programs to put towards mental healthcare. He also believes that overdose cases should get the rehabilitation they need immediately if admitted to hospital. He wants these people to be rehabilitated so they can have an improved quality of life and not be on the social system.
Independent Candidate Jennifer Sloan says the crisis has gotten much worse since the pandemic. She wants to look at creating more pop-up addiction clinics in smaller towns, and wants more online options for addiction help, like toll-free numbers to get in touch with services. She also wants to see trained volunteers out in the community to help provide services to those living with addiction.
Green Candidate Reg Wilson says he wants to secure the safety of the drug supply and decriminalize possession. He says he and the Greens also want to provide facilities to help with treatment.
Conservative Candidate Shelby Kramp-Neuman did not mention the opioid crisis in her campaign’s statement to Moose FM. In addition, NDP Candidate Matilda DeBues was unable to be reached for comment about the ongoing opioid crisis.