Ring Committed to Addressing Opioid Crisis with Health Care Partners

News Release (Not Picked Up)

October 12, 2018

Ring Committed to Addressing Opioid Crisis with Health Care Partners

It’s very clear and has been for several years that communities across Canada and beyond our borders are dealing with a serious Opioid and Fentanyl Crisis. There have been countless media stories highlighting the impact of these drugs and the toll they are taking on individuals and their families. 

When a respected national news media outlet such as CTV’s W5 contacts City Hall and wanted to interview the Mayor on an issue like this, you would think every effort would be made to be informed. 

Instead on February 11, 2018 on W5 when he was told in an on-camera interview that there is on average 5 reported overdoses a day in Sault Ste. Marie, the Mayor said, “What’s that stat? That’s the first time I’ve heard that stat – Is the question you are asking why?”  

That confused response was our Mayor, who last boasted about being closely involved in the community, including being on the local Police Services Board. How could he not know that stat or not have some understanding of the severity of the problem? In November 2017 alone, about 50 overdoses were reported.

W5 must have arranged the interview well in advance and being that unprepared was embarrassing to our community. Sure, there was damage control after with local media, yes there were plenty of excuses last night, but the damage was done on national news.

This was an opportunity for our Mayor to show leadership, to demonstrate he knew the facts, understood the gravity of this issue and knew the role various health care organizations are playing to help those in need. 

“We need to make sure that all patients have access to the evidence-based, addiction interventions that most opioid-dependent individuals are not receiving right now.” Says Ring

Ring wants to ensure that there is access to prompt, professional opioid maintenance. ‘We need the government to support mainstream healthcare organizations and local service providers to mobilize and make treatment widely accessible and affordable’, he says. 

In speaking with service providers Ring knows that we need to ensure enhanced training and resources for our front-line people so that they become more adept at emergency response, screening for, recognizing and treating addiction. “We can also no longer afford to focus only on treating advanced cases of addiction and its complications; we need to focus on prevention” says Ring.

We need to make sure we work with the provincial and federal governments so that the people for whom these medications were intended continue to have access to them. There are people who cannot work, socialize, or be responsible family members because the pain they experience is intolerable. A complete campaign to prevent opioid addiction needs to address this fact as well as the fact of over-prescription of a dangerous drug no matter how small those amounts might be. 

There needs to be education for the public about the risks of prescription pain medications. The path to addiction to opiates often comes from friends and family- often directly from the medicine cabinet. We all know someone who came back from a procedure with a supply of pain medication. 

You can’t solve this problem on an enforcement level alone we need to do a better job treating addiction as the complex and devastating issue that it is. 

Improving our approach to addiction will also “cut local spending, lower crime, traffic accidents, suicides, domestic violence, homelessness, birth defects and a host of other devastating and costly health and social ills.” Ring states. Addiction does not confine itself to any socio-economic status or race, most people struggling with an addiction aren’t receiving any treatment at all.

The Sault family that bravely came forward and told their story on national television deserved a better response from our Mayor, as did the countless families who struggle with the addiction crisis daily in their own lives. This is a crisis that affects all facets of the community, from all professions, income levels and social statuses. 

My platform outlines a responsible plan to create jobs, lower taxes and improve the quality of life in our community for all citizens, but to implement it I need your support on October 22, 2018.