Northern Ontario at 'epicentre' of opioid crisis, says Sudbury addiction specialist
Dr. Mike Franklyn urging province for more emergency funds to deal with crisis
Dr. Mike Franklyn, an addictions specialist in Sudbury, says a recent provincial funding announcement dealing with the opioid crisis is a step in the right direction, but sorely lacking in detail.
Franklyn is asking for emergency funding to deal with the problem on street-level, as well as a clear plan so that the money will go where it's needed most.
"Emergency funds would free up resources to improve needle exchange, for providing clean needles, giving Naloxone on the street, and facilitating treatment," Franklyn said.
Franklyn was one of 700 medical professionals to sign their name to a letter last month asking the province to declare the current opioid crisis a public health emergency.
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Ontario promises more funds to deal with crisis
Last week, Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins said the provincial government will invest the money over three years to improve access to harm reduction services and addiction treatment amid an opioid crisis in the province.
That includes resources such as an increase to front-line harm-reduction workers and extra Naloxone, the antidote to opioids.
Franklyn says the province already spends five times this amount to deal with the aftermath of opioid addiction and Hoskins' promise doesn't address education, prevention, or the expansion for existing clinics.
"We're seeing people hospitalized and re-hospitalized with serious heart infections," Franklyn said. "We're spending a quarter million dollars treating the complications of the drug use and not addressing the underlying problem."
Northern Ontario at epicentre of crisis
Franklyn also said that northern Ontario is one of the worst jurisdictions for opioid deaths, overdoses, visits to the emergency ward and the over-prescribing of opiates by physicians.
"Temiskaming, Sudbury, Manitoulin and Thunder Bay are the worst jurisdictions, in the worst province, in the worst country in the world," he said.
Public Health Ontario reported 17 opioid-related deaths in 2016.
"We hear a lot of press from BC because they're having more overdoses, but it's important to recognize that that's mostly illegal powdered Fentanyl, which comes from China," Franklyn said.
"As far as this iatrogenic crisis, caused by physicians, Northern Ontario is at the epicentre of this on the entire globe."