Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, has released the following statement on International Overdose Awareness Day:
“On International Overdose Awareness Day, people around the world remember those who lost their lives to the toxic drug crisis and use purple ribbons to raise awareness and reduce the stigma of substance use.
“Today is a day to mourn with the families and friends who have lost loved ones. This is an unimaginable loss to bear.
“That loss is shared by peer workers, paramedics, firefighters, police officers and all those on the front lines of this terrible crisis. I’m eternally grateful for your hard work and dedication during these trying times. You are saving lives.
“On International Overdose Awareness Day, we also put faces to the names of those lost with the hope of breaking down the stigma associated with drug use. Fear and shame make people hide addiction and use drugs alone, which is deadly. Addiction is a health condition.
“Increasing supports and reducing stigma is a key part of our government’s work to build a comprehensive and seamless continuum of mental-health and addictions care that works for everyone. It’s also why we are decriminalizing people who use drugs.
“While we have been adding treatment and harm-reduction services at an unprecedented rate, the increasing illicit drug toxicity has outstripped our addition of new overdose prevention services. Today and every day are reminders of the urgency of this work to save lives. We know there is more to do and we won’t stop working until we turn the tide on this crisis.”