Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, issued the following statement on International Overdose Awareness Day:
“On International Overdose Awareness Day, people around the world remember those who have lost their lives to the toxic drug crisis and use purple ribbons to raise awareness and reduce the stigma around substance use. .
“Today is a day of mourning with families and friends who have lost loved ones. It is an unimaginable loss to bear.
“This loss is shared by peer helpers, paramedics, firefighters, police and all those on the front lines of this terrible crisis. I am forever grateful for your hard work and dedication during these difficult times. You save lives.
“On International Overdose Awareness Day, we are also putting faces to the names of lost people in hopes of breaking the stigma associated with drug use. Fear and shame make people hide their addiction and use drugs alone, which is deadly. Addiction is a health problem.
“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 is also why we are decriminalizing people who use drugs.
“While we have added treatment and harm reduction services at an unprecedented rate, the growing toxicity of illicit drugs has outpaced our addition of new overdose prevention services. Today and every day remind us of the urgency of this work to save lives. We know there is still much to do and we will not stop working until we turn the tide of this crisis.