Alarming increases in opioid-related deaths continue as regional council this week crawled toward a solution.
Part of that solution would be a rapid decision on two supervised drug injection sites — one in downtown Kitchener and another in Cambridge’s drug-troubled core. As usual, because the city apparently has no opioid or other social issues, Waterloo is currently not being considered for such a site.
Ever since Kitchener councillors commendably approved such a politically unpopular drug-injection site, the Region has been dithering about approval for supervised facilities complete with wrap-around social services.
Part of the delay involves a renewed search for alternate sites and a hastily created, electioneering bylaw in Cambridge to ban such a facility in the city’s core which is being ravaged by ongoing drug problems.
Another delay involves seeking clarity from our Trump-light Tory Premier Doug Ford who, predictably, is on record as saying he’s “dead set” against provincial support for any injection sites.
In Kitchener, one potential site has been identified in a Water Street North house between Duke and Victoria near St. John’s Kitchen. The second possible site is in an office building on the north side of King Street East close to Eby Street.
Meanwhile the opioid tragedy grows:
° More than 110 people died in Waterloo Region because of opioid-related overdoses in 2016 and 2017.
° Locally, we have about 4,000 people a day injecting drugs often laced with deadly fentanyl.
° In Canada, 4,000 people died from opioid overdoses last year — about 11 a day.
° In our Region there was a more than 300 per cent increase in opioid-related calls to paramedics between 2015 and 2017 along with a 70 per cent jump in opioid-related visits to hospitals.
All of which means we need urgent, overdue action from regional councillors and staff instead of continued hand-wringing and wordy waffling.