Staff from the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit and area politicians revealed an eight-point plan to battle opioids in the region Wednesday.

A report released in 2016 showed the total rate of opioid users in Windsor-Essex was 18.9 per cent higher than the provincial average. Thirty-seven people died of opioid-related overdoses last year.

"We've got lives out there we've got to save," said Essex County Warden Tom Bain during a media event to introduce the strategy.

The eight steps are as follows:

  • Enhance surveillance activities and the use of overdose data
  • Increase public awareness through education campaigns
  • Increased provider and patient education
  • Improve overdose prevention, education, training and services
  • Increase access to overdose drug Naloxone
  • Develop a local harm reduction framework
  • Increase treatment options and access to services
  • Collaborate across law enforcement and other first responders to develop a coordinated response

Members of the community will now have a chance to review the strategy and provide feedback during two public meetings.

The first will be held at the downtown Windsor YMCA on Oct. 17 and the other at the Leamington Kinsmen Recreation Complex on Oct. 18. Registration for both consultations is limited.

Those who wish to attend can call the health unit at 519-258-2146 ext. 3100 or sign up online. 

A survey is also available on the health unit's website.

The goal is for the final plan to be released by November or December.