At the 31st Ontario Convention of the Communist Party of Canada, delegates from across the province called for urgent measures to be taken towards ending the ongoing opioid epidemic.
With the social distancing measures, combined with overwhelmed and underfunded health care services, the COVID-19 pandemic has severely exacerbated and accelerated the opiod crisis, the number of deaths rising by over 60% in 2020. This trend is continuing with deaths up by 30% in the first six months of 2021. The rate of deaths among marginalized populations is disproportionately higher, where the number of deaths increased by 139% among homeless people in 2020, for example. With no signs of slowing down, it is long past due that serious action is taken to prevent thousands of tragic and unnecessary deaths. This must start with a free and safe supply of drugs, which will immediately lead to a dramatic reduction of overdoses and overdose deaths.
Addiction and drug use are health issues and not a crime, and should be treated as such. While some progress has been made in recent years, it is too slow, too fragmented, and too often treated as an interim policy which can be withdrawn at any time. As an urgent public health issue in every single region of Ontario, there needs to be a provincially funded approach to the treatment of addiction led by the health & community services sectors that is well resourced and holistic in its application.
Because addiction and poverty are so often intertwined, many of the social, medical, and public health consequences associated with addiction can be greatly reduced by robust expansion of social support, public services, and strong pro-social public policies.
The Communist Party of Canada (Ontario) is demanding:
- The decriminalization of drug use and treating addiction as a medical issue.
- A safe, free supply of drugs and increased supervised consumption sites
- Construction of permanent social housing units.
- Comprehensive and holistic health care which is fully funded, including addictions and mental health services.
- Strengthened occupational health and safety rules and regulations to protect workers from injuries which so often lead to opioid addiction.
- Increased social supports for injured workers.
- Expansion of public services province-wide both inside and outside of major cities, especially in rural and remote regions.
Special Resolution of the Communist Party of Canada’s 31st Ontario Provincial Convention, held November 27-28, 2021.