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Opioid Crisis Efforts Update

As Ward 6 City Councillor since October 2018, I have done, and will be doing, the following to raise public awareness about the opioid crisis and to contribute to saving lives in our community:

– I requested that city council declare a public health emergency with respect to the opioid crisis and request funding from the federal and provincial governments to increase opioid trafficking enforcement, treatment, prevention and education;

– I have met several times with representatives from the David Busby Centre, the Gilbert Centre, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit and members of the Simcoe Muskoka Opioid Strategy (SMOS) to ask difficult questions about SMOS’s due diligence with respect to the federal and provincial applications for a supervised consumption site;

– I have travelled to Guelph to visit a supervised consumption site and to meet with Mayor Cam Guthrie, the facilitators of the program, and a representative from the Guelph Police Service;

– I have participated in a town hall meeting hosted by MP Alex Nuttall, regarding Barrie’s proposed supervised consumption site;

– I have met with MPP Andrea Khanjin to discuss the potential development of a provincial mental health hub which would include addiction and drug abuse support;

– I have met with the Attorney General Doug Downey, MPP Andrea Khanjin, family members affected by the opioid epidemic, the director of the Barrie Rapid Access Addiction Medicine, and a fellow advocate on July 9, 2019, to discuss increasing funding to the RAAM’s services so that they can be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week;

– I met with the director of the Newmarket Treatment Centre, Cornerstone Recovery Community, Peter Brewitt, on July 11, 2019, to discuss the possibility of bringing his treatment model to Barrie;

– I have spoken to Homewood Health Centre representatives about the possibility of bringing a satellite treatment centre to Barrie;

– I have met with the Vice President of Strategy of the Royal Victoria Hospital, Suzanne Legue, and President of the Royal Victoria Hospital Foundation, Eric Dean, and discussed the potential of bringing more provincial and federal funding to the RAAM and the Barrie Alcohol-Drug Withdrawal Centre (Detox);

– I attended the META:PHI Annual Conference on September 20, 2019, in Toronto and learned about RAAM best-practices and community involvement/support;

– I carry naloxone in my glove box;

– I have arranged a meeting with the Creative Barrie department, family members who have lost children to this epidemic, and a fellow advocate to discuss the development of a memorial event to remember those who we have lost to opioid-related deaths;

– I work one-on-one with the marginalized population in Barrie and provide them with resources and support;

– I have spoken about my personal experience with addiction and recovery at the Barrie Alcohol-Drug Withdrawal Centre (Detox), and 12-step meetings many times, and continue to do so on a regular basis;

– I participated in the Barrie Drug Awareness Partnership CommUNITY Baseball game on September 29, 2019, which included players from first responder services and local community members battling with addiction and affected by the opioid crisis;

– I have a meeting scheduled on October 4th with the META:PHI directors to discuss funding in Barrie and complementing treatment options;

– I will be attending the Southern Ontario Cocaine Anonymous Conference from October 18-20, 2019; 

– I participate in a weekly book study (Drop The Rock: AA’s step 6, 7 and 10), in order to obtain a greater understanding of addition and recovery from the 12-step perspective;

– I will be meeting with the Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Michael Tibillo, on October 11, 2019, to discuss the opioid crisis in Barrie, beyond the discussions I had with him, Mayor Jeff Lehman, and fellow Councillors at the Association of Municipalities (AMO) Conference in Ottawa this past August;

I will continue to work with the Mayor, fellow Councillors and community advocates to bring more treatment options to Barrie. This crisis will not be resolved with a supervised consumption site alone. Our city must provide fulsome, accessible care to everyone who needs it. 

Natalie Harris, Ward 6 Barrie City Councillor