Barrie, opioid

My Thoughts On The Discussion At The Barrie-Innisfil Candidate’s Forum Regarding The Opioid Crisis

I was not able to attend the Barrie-Innisfil Candidates Forum. But I was happy to learn from the media that the opioid crisis was (not surprisingly) a topic of discussion. Thank you to all of the candidates for their input and dedication to this topic. With all due respect, at this time, I would like to elaborate on/clarify a few points made by NDP candidate, Pekka Reinio.

“We need to address the opioid crisis,” Reinio said. “It seems like the municipal council is stalling for now, and I don’t know why.” Barrie Today, October 4, 2019.

The municipal council is not stalling with respect to the opioid crisis; I think it is very important to remember that management of the opioid crisis includes MUCH more than the approval of a supervised consumption site. Actions are being taken as we speak by some councillors that address the crisis and call for better fulsome treatment options. In fact, I am having a meeting today in Toronto at Women’s College Hospital, with the META:PHI directors to discuss funding in Barrie and complementing treatment options. I will also be meeting with the Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Michael Tibillo, on October 11, 2019, to continue the discussions I had with him, Mayor Jeff Lehman, and fellow councillors at the Association of Municipalities (AMO) Conference in Ottawa this past August.

The NDP candidate said if his party was elected, they would immediatey declare national crisis on opioids, “hopefully freeing some money so municipalities can follow the guidelines of the Simcoe Muskoka (Opioid Strategy), which says we need to have safe injection sites.” Barrie Today, October 4, 2019.

I agree, declaring a national emergency on the opioid crisis, (which I proposed to council early last year), is ideal with respect to securing provincial and federal funds that will save lives. But once again, I think it is very important to remember that the Simcoe Muskoka Opioid Strategy (SMOS) identifies several pillars dedicated to addressing this crisis, beyond harm reduction.

What we have is MORE than an opioid crisis. We have a mental health and addiction crisis. Overall, I have been very much in favour of having a supervised consumption site in Barrie, but I am afraid that the discussion and debate surrounding this has caused some of our community and policy makers to unintentionally under-acknowledge the fact that fulsome treatment is really what is required to make a major change in the opioid crisis.

Any funds available should be used for all of SMOS’s pillars; prevention, treatment and clinical practice, harm reduction, enforcement and emergency management. And when we look at these pillars under a social welfare microscope, these pillars further extend into housing, education and overall health and wellness.

So what does all of this mean to me as Ward 6 City Councillor in Barrie? Well, overall I am so happy that the discussion surrounding the opioid crisis is vibrant among all of our federal candidates. I look forward to working with whomever is elected to tackle this topic and save lives.


We DON’T Need Another Panel To Tell Us That First Responder’s Need Better Mental Health Resources!

Panel on police suicides says officers need better mental health support

How did yet ANOTHER PANEL need to be developed to determine that police mental health resources need to be improved in order to prevent suicides? 

Here are just a FEW of the reports/research findings already published:—public-policy-submissions/police-mental-health-discussion-paper-oct2018-pdf.pdf?la=en&hash=B47D58B5ACBE4678A90907E3A600BB447EE134BF

… the list of these reports seems endless! 

FURTHERMORE, Bill C-211, introduced by MP Todd Doherty, has already conducted The National Conference on PTSD: Working Together to Inform Canada’s Federal Framework on PTSD. It took place in Ottawa on April 9 and 10, 2019. Leading the conference were the Ministers of:

-Veterans Affairs
-National Defence
-Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
-Experts from across the country, including people with lived experience. 

The federal framework will be completed in December 2019. USE THIS! 

Please stop wasting money with yet another panel, and use that money to hire trauma trained specialists for our first responders.

Follow in Barrie Fire and Emergency Service’s footsteps: 

“Cory Mainprize @MainprizeCory Sep 9

@Barrie_Fire is pleased to announce our new partnership with WPM Psychological Services, Wounded Warriors Canada, and lead clinical Psychologist Lara Sigurdson to deliver the Before Occupational Stress (BOS) program to our Peer Support Team and ⁦@BarriePFFA members” 

Trauma trained experts are a MUST for our first responder’s care. Normal EAP is not enough, and in my opinion is negligent.


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