Dear Linda Lee Logan,
I am writing to you as the Ward 6 Barrie City Councillor in response to your request for comments regarding my contribution to raising public awareness and to preventing overdose deaths in the community during the opioid epidemic.
As you may already know, I am a retired Advanced Care Paramedic, making my contribution to saving lives from opioid deaths begin many years ago. I have seen patients die from suspected opioid overdoses right before my very eyes – more times than I can count. Before I retired due to a diagnosis of PTSD in 2014, the opioid epidemic was dramatically increasing, and I have been informed by current paramedics in the County of Simcoe that they now attend multiple suspected opioid overdose calls on a daily basis.
I have seen the horror of grief cross the faces of family members who have lost a loved one to this epidemic. And I also know the devastating effects these calls have on first responders, so in 2015, with the help of other community heroes across Canada, I developed a free peer support model that is now being used in over 30 cities across Canada. It is called Wings of Change and you can find it at http://wingsofchange.wixsite.com/wingsofchange.
As Ward 6 City Councillor, since October 2018, I have done the following to raise public awareness about the opioid epidemic and to contribute to saving lives in our community:
- I requested that City Council declare a public health emergency with respect to the opioid epidemic 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 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, Ontario, to visit a supervised consumption site and to meet with Guelph’s Mayor Cam Guthrie, the facilitators of the program, and a representative from the Guelph Police Service;
- I have worked directly with MP Alex Nuttal and supported his request that the federal government declare an opioid public health emergency, and participated in a town hall meeting he hosted 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 parents who have lost children to this epidemic many times;
- I have met with the Director of the Rapid Access Addiction Medicine (RAAM) and asked how I could help to increase their hours of operation;
- I am scheduled to meet 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 9th to discuss increasing funding to the RAAM’s services so that they can be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week;
- I am scheduled to meet with the Director of the Newmarket Treatment Centre on July 11th, and have spoken to Homewood Health representatives about the possibility of bringing a satellite treatment centre to Barrie;
- 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 which will be located in Barrie to remember those who we have lost to opioid related deaths;
- I work one-on-one with the marginalized 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.
Looking to the future, I will continue to support the application of a supervised consumption site in Barrie, and will share my own recovery journey whenever required in order to help our community heal and grow beyond this epidemic.
I welcome the opportunity to sit down and speak with you further about my endeavours, and thank you so much for the advocacy work you do with the organization, Mom Stop The Harm.
It may seem as if their is little hope in eradicating this epidemic, but I will not stop fighting to find new ways to save lives and prevent anyone else from seeing the horror of grief cross a parent’s face.
Ward 6 Barrie City Councillor
BHSc, AEMCA, ACP (ret.)