October 12th, 2021

NDP vows help for North Bay’s overdose crisis

NORTH BAY — As the overdose crisis grows in North Bay and throughout Northern Ontario, Official Opposition NDP leader Andrea Horwath said investments in mental health and addictions are overdue, and lives are at stake.

Horwath was in North Bay Tuesday with Erika Lougheed, the Ontario NDP candidate for Nipissing, to call for urgent investments in mental health and addictions supports and treatment, and for Doug Ford’s cap on the number of overdose prevention sites in Ontario to be scrapped.

“The overdose crisis in North Bay and throughout Ontario is tearing families apart. Parents are being forced to hold funerals for their sons and daughters — people who should have had so much life ahead of them. And the whole community is being touched by the effects of this crisis,” said Horwath.

The Doug Ford government cut $330 million from mental health and addictions in 2018, then limited the number of overdose prevention sites in Ontario. The sector was already badly underfunded, making it difficult to find supports, and making the waitlist for help long and dangerous for many.

Cuts and underfunding closed 29 residential treatment beds in the north east last year. There are long waits for residential treatment in North Bay, and for youth the wait for mental health treatment is now over a year – 370 days.

“I shudder to think what would happen if Mr. Ford gets another chance to keep cutting mental health and addictions supports,” said Horwath. “Let’s invest instead of cutting. Let’s make sure treatment is available to folks as soon as they’re ready, instead of leaving them to face a long, dangerous wait. And let’s build and fund overdose prevention sites, instead of capping and restricting this lifesaving service.”

Horwath and Lougheed said Nipissing has been battling alone.

“The Ford government hasn’t been here for Nipissing, and people are paying the price for that,” said Lougheed. “It’s time for a government that will make sure Northern Ontario and Nipissing finally get our fair share.”