The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit held a community consultation meeting Tuesday to talk about the best ways to combat opioid abuse.

The health unit, along with Essex Windsor EMS, is putting together an opioid strategy with four main objectives —prevention and education, harm reduction, treatment and recovery, and enforcement and justice.

Windsor-Essex posted an opioid usage rate for of 19.4 individuals per 100,000 last year, exceeding the provincial average of 13.9 individuals per 100,000.

Essex Windsor EMS Chief Bruce Krauter is the co-chair of the Windsor Essex Opioid Strategy Leadership Committee and said one of the things the committee will look at is how best to treat addicts.

"Is it best [for the opioid user] not to use opioids and recover that way or is medication-based?" he asked as an example of the kind of questions the committee will be taking on.

Public consultation will be held Wednesday

Michael Parkinson is part of the community anti-opioid strategy in Waterloo called the Waterloo Crime Prevention Council. He was a guest speaker during the meeting and said it takes a team effort to combat the epidemic.

"It's bigger than a health unit. It's bigger than a community. It's bigger than any layer of government or any health funder. It really does take an all-hands-on-deck approach," said Parkinson.

Glen Cook lost his 23 year-old son Rob Myles to a Fentanyl overdose in 2015. There isn't a day that goes by that Cook doesn't think of him, but he said he likes region's new strategy.

"I think it's a good start and I think we should stay on it with a strategy like they've talked about tonight," said Cook.

But Cheryl Bondy was disappointed she and some other parents of abusers weren't able to address the crowd.

"I feel we need to get to the addict more. Once the addict gets the help and is getting better than we as family members and friends can be better as well," said Bondy.

There will be another public input meeting Wednesday at the Kinsmen Recreation Complex in Leamington starting at 5:30.

Dale Molnar