Increasing rates of opioid overdose across Canada have prompted action at all levels of government. In addition to the broad increases in opioid-related emergency department (ED) visits, hospitalizations, and deaths noted at the provincial level (Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion, 2017), a recent report has demonstrated a disproportionately large impact of the opioid burden in Windsor and Essex County (Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, 2017). With increased funding allotted to local public health units to address this issue, an opportunity exists to address opioid overdose in Windsor and Essex County with strategies driven by community need and a collaborative approach to opioid overdose prevention.
The Windsor-Essex Community Opioid Strategy (WECOS) seeks to address the increases in opioid related harms through a set of best practice strategies tailored through community feedback. Recognizing that no single activity or action can adequately address an issue as complex as substance abuse, a four pillar approach has been adopted in similar sized Ontario municipalities and as such will be the structural model on which the WECOS is based. The four pillar model consists of the following broad categories of strategies which will be used as the basis for a comprehensive community approach: Prevention and Education, Harm Reduction, Treatment and Recovery, and Enforcement and Justice. Using this model as well as provincial and national best practices (Toronto Public Health, 2017; Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council, 2011), and a local environmental scan of existing service providers, a set of eight broad interventions have been proposed. Each strategy and category proposed will become the workplan for the WECOS-LC and related work groups and sub-committees.
This purpose of this consultation document is to seek community input on the proposed strategies for Windsor and Essex County with the intention of generating discussion and feedback to inform the WECOS-LC and address the disproportionately high rates of opioid misuse and overdose in Windsor and Essex County. This document will serve as the conversation point for two community forums, one in Windsor and one in Leamington. In addition a community survey will be launched to ensure broad community feedback and input into the strategies and direction for Windsor and Essex County in tackling and preventing opioid misuse.