'Engagement and commitment': Chatham-Kent passes motion seeking municipal drug strategy

Brock McGregor, a councillor for ward six in Chatham-Kent, successfully asked council to pass a motion to implement a drug strategy.

"What I'm asking for is some engagement"

A Chatham-Kent councillor is asking for the municipality to develop a drug strategy. (Maryse Zeidler/CBC)

Chatham-Kent is without a municipal drug strategy, but that will soon change.

Ward 6 Coun. Brock McGregor asked council to pass a motion implementing a municipal drug strategy in collaboration with local agencies and stakeholders, like the Chatham-Kent Drug Awareness Council.

The motion passed unanimously during Monday's Chatham-Kent council meeting. Municipal administrators will now draft a report outlining the necessary steps to move forward.

"Not unlike many communities in Canada and in Ontario, we've seen a rise in the impacts of substance use issues in Chatham-Kent," said McGregor. "They've become more visual over the past few years." 

According to numbers from the Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit, there were 11 deaths from opioids in the municipality between 2015 and 2017.

That figures represents a lower opioid-related death rate than Ontario, but is 2.5 times greater than the provincial rate of opioid-related hospitalizations for people aged 25 to 44.

"What I'm asking for is some engagement and commitment from my council colleagues to say that this is going to be a priority in Chatham Kent," McGregor said.

He hopes the report will address the resources necessary to implement the strategy. The goal is to then determine the municipality's role in the strategy, as well as how it will engage with the community.

McGregor asked that the report be completed before budget deliberations, so the drug strategy can be part of a plan as the municipality moves forward.

He said that municipal administrative teams will begin compiling draft budgets later this fall, with council deliberations set to take place "early next year."

"It affects different communities within Chatham-Kent differently and there's a recognition that that's a priority of a lot of residents in Chatham-Kent to see some action," said McGregor.

McGregor said his motion was well-received by council, adding that no councillors were skeptical of the motion during discussion. 

"The comments were in favour and the vote was unanimous, and I think that that's consistent with some of the strategic direction that we've discussed as a council and some of the feedback that all of received during the election."

(Chatham Kent Public Health)


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