My View On The Supervised Consumption Site and My Experiences Helping To Combat the Opioid Crisis in Barrie

For those who are still looking for clarification. I AM in favour of an SCS. I voted yes to it and raised public awareness in favour of it until I was made aware of issues with the application process just prior to the final vote. I am STILL in favour of an SCS and all forms of addiction treatment and overdose death prevention.

The SCS application process is being reviewed at this time and will come to council I believe in the next few months.

As Ward 6 City Councillor since October 2018, I have done the following to raise public awareness and combat the opioid crisis 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. This was not the will of council at that time;

– I have met 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 so that a potential application submission was not missed;

– 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 Rapid Access Addiction Medicine 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 met with the Creative Barrie and a fellow advocate to discuss the development of a memorial event to remember those whom 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 met on October 4th with the META:PHI directors at the Women’s College Hospital to discuss funding in Barrie and complementing treatment options;

-I participated 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 met 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;

-Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Michael Tibollo has requested that I further discuss improvement to women’s addiction treatment and peer support in the penitentiary systems where opioid addiction still runs rampant;

-I am working with the anti-stigma pillar of SMOS to help expand their campaign beyond what I have already participated in – to date videos of lived experience stories with my son and I;

-I am meeting with physicians from RVH and the Simcoe-Muskoka Health Unit on February 5th to discuss how to better implement best practises for pharmaceutical addiction management and naloxone distribution in the emergency department;

-Have encouraged the prevention pillar of SMOS to attend open ALANON meetings to connect with families and friends of those with addiction or who have died from addiction;

-As per my request, SMOS will be considering opportunities for NSM LHIN hospitals to share with each other on effective practices, learnings etc;

-I am working in classrooms with the Barrie Police VIP program to educate students on addiction stigma and encourage healthy conversations around this topic;

-I am speaking at the, “Orillia Talks Opioids” event on February 19th;

-Made sure that funding was not cut to paramedic services during both budgets I have been councillor for. I very publicly share how paramedic’s are often attending multiple overdose calls a day and that paramedic’s are already very busy with little downtime. And as approximately 97% of the paramedic budget is allocated to salaries, any cuts to their budget would equal paramedic employment cuts.

-…and I have been known to make a get-well card or two for those facing community isolation while in treatment for addiction. (Cards delivered to the Rapid Action Addiction Medicine (RAAM), Barrie Detox, Hope City Church, a treatment centre in Aurora, individuals requesting cards be sent to family members, and more). I will be making these in Ottawa with approximately 120 MP’s at the end of the month to further raise awareness of addiction stigma and resulting community isolation;

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. This unfortunately takes time and funding. I can assure you, this is a daily mission for me.

At this time I will be taking a break from social media. If you would like to contact me you can here, or via my work email: Natalie.Harris@barrie.ca

Thank you.