How we’re working to address the opioid issue in Peel.
All levels of government and local community organizations are part of ongoing efforts to save lives and reduce harms from opioids. In Peel, our local response includes the Peel Opioid Strategy which focuses on prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and enforcement and justice.
To receive a copy of the strategy in an accessible format you can email us.
The issue of drug toxicity and overdose is most often associated with opioid use. Opioids are drugs used to treat pain. Not all opioids are harmful and can be prescribed by doctors. However, when drugs contain toxic substances, they can be harmful. Learn more about opioids.
The impacts of opioid use in Peel
A poisoned drug supply is causing deaths in our communities. We’ve seen 682 deaths in the last 5 years (2018 to 2022).
Many people are dying
Deaths attributed to opioid toxicity increased by 68% from 2018 to 2021. The death rate returned to pre-pandemic levels in 2022 and remains elevated today.
Increasingly toxic drug supply
Fentanyl contributed to 9 out of 10 deaths in 2021 and 2022.
Additional strain on emergency services
The highest rate of emergency department visits for opioid toxicity on record occurred in 2021.
Less frequent resuscitation and naloxone use
46% of deaths included a resuscitation attempt and naloxone was used in only 24% of deaths in 2021 and 2022.
Learn more about how we closely monitor trends in emergency department visits, paramedic calls, hospitalizations and deaths related to opioid use in Peel. View data on opioid overdoses in Peel.
Supervised drug consumption services
In July 2022, Regional Council’s approval to establish and fund an interim Supervised Consumption Services (SCS) site enabled the search for a location for an SCS to progress.
An interim site will provide a space where people can use their own drugs in a safe environment under the supervision of medically trained staff who are knowledgeable, non-judgmental, and trauma informed. Basic health care, harm reduction teaching, counselling, wrap around supports and referrals will be provided on site. Supervised Consumption Services help prevent and reverse overdoses, decrease the spread of infectious diseases, and reduce public drug use.
A Peel Supervised Consumption Site Needs Assessment and Feasibility Study was completed and looked at the perspectives of people who use substances, community members and key informants on supervised consumption services in Peel.
Key study findings:
- There is a need for supervised consumption services in Peel.
- Most people who use substances (87%) would use a supervised consumption service if available.
- Community consultation should occur to increase acceptance of these services.
To receive a copy of the study in an accessible format you can email us.
Steps to opening a supervised consumption site in Peel
Several steps will be taken before opening a supervised consumption site, and regular engagement will guide the process.
Secure a site (completed)
- On July 6, 2023, Peel Public Health delivered a report to Regional Council identifying 10 Peel Centre Drive in Brampton as the location of Peel’s first interim Supervised Consumption Service via an Urgent Public Health Need Site.
Prepare for operations (in progress)
- Site-specific engagement with local partners and stakeholders to educate and build awareness of the drug-toxicity crisis and service offering.
- Apply for Health Canada exemption. An exemption to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act for the intended site location is required to provide Supervised Consumption Services via an Urgent Public Health Need Site.
- Pursue funding from the Ontario government for a longer-term supervised consumption services site in Peel. The province will fund up to 21 Consumption and Treatment Services sites. The application process for this program is extensive and includes broad community consultation.
Anticipated site opening (as soon as possible in 2023)
Moyo Health and Community Services will operate the interim supervised consumption service site. WellFort Community Health Services will provide clinical services once the site is open.
Reducing deaths and harm
In partnership with community agencies, Peel Public Health provides access to naloxone and training and provides safer drug use materials and education. Refer to the Harm Reduction Program to find out how to access services in Peel.
Harm Reduction Programs help reduce harmful health effects for people who use substances, including the spread of infectious diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C, and prevent fatal overdoses.
Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act
The Act is intended to reduce fear of police attending overdose events and encourage people to help save a life and applies to anyone seeking emergency support during an overdose, including the person experiencing an overdose. The Act protects the person who seeks help, whether they stay or leave from the overdose scene before help arrives. The Act also protects anyone else who is at the scene when help arrives.
Using Naloxone for an opioid overdose
Naloxone is a life-saving medication used to reverse an opioid overdose and restore breathing within 2 to 5 minutes.
Some local pharmacies carry naloxone kits. Find out where to get a free naloxone kit.
Watch how to administer naloxone.
- Harm Reduction Program
- Ontario Ministry of Health opioid overdose information
- Stigma around substance use
Our partners in the health sector are working to ensure access to effective addictions and mental health treatment services. Treatment services for opioid use disorder include:
- support groups
- withdrawal management programs
Medications like methadone or suboxone can help with opioid cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
Access supports and services:
Peel Regional Police and Caledon OPP support residents who interact with the justice system and are working to decrease the supply of illicit substances (drugs), including those contaminated with fentanyl and other dangerous substances.
Toronto, Vancouver, and British Columbia have submitted separate exemption requests to Health Canada to decriminalize simple drug possession under subsection 56(1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. In May 2022, British Columbia was granted an exemption between January 31, 2023, and January 31, 2026, to permit Canadians 18 years or older to possess up to a cumulative 2.5 grams of opioids, cocaine, methamphetamine and MDMA.
Research suggests that alternatives to criminalization can help minimize harm from substance use. Peel Public Health is exploring policy options appropriate for our community with partners and people with lived/living experience of substance use.
In November 2022, a working group was established to explore alternatives to the criminalization of drugs. The working group will provide insight into the local context, current practices and opportunities, and potential health and social equity-based alternatives to drug criminalization in Peel.