HAMILTON EXPLORES DECLARING A STATE OF EMERGENCY OVER OPIOID OVERDOSES AND DEATHS

Jan 21, 2023

By Jeremy Logan

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The City of Hamilton is exploring whether to declare a state of emergency over its opioid crisis, and the municipality’s top doctor says such a move could help it respond to a worsening problem.

On January 12th, a resolution to have the city’s top physician assess the threshold of overdoses and deaths related to opioids that would call for such a statement was introduced and passed unanimously.

According to Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, Hamilton’s chief medical officer of health, a state of emergency is normally declared in response to acute problems like a serious fire or accident, therefore the city is considering what kind of action and funding the declaration would enable.

According to Councillor Alex Wilson, opioid-related overdoses and deaths are rising in Hamilton and it’s an issue affecting every community in the city, though disproportionately those who are homeless.

Hamilton paramedics responded to 814 incidents related to suspected opioid overdoses in 2022, according to city data, compared to 430 such incidents in 2017.

Opioid deaths have increased in Ontario by more than 100% since 2017 and took a marked jump when the pandemic hit in March 2020.

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