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Opioids

How we’re working to address the opioid issue in Peel.

Opioids are highly addictive substances that can change the brain, making it difficult to stop opioid use. Opioids can harm anyone regardless of their job, cultural background, or age. Learn more about opioids.

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. 

Read Peel's opioid strategy. To receive a copy of the strategy in an accessible format you can email us.

The impacts of opioid use in Peel

A poisoned drug supply is causing deaths in our communities. We’ve seen 654 deaths in the last 5 years (2017 to 2021).

More people are dying
133% increase in deaths in 2021 compared to 2017

Increasingly toxic drug supply
Fentanyl contributed to 9 out of 10 deaths in 2020 and 2021

Additional strain on emergency services
Highest rate of opioid-related emergency department visits on record in 2021

Less frequent resuscitation and naloxone use
43% of deaths included a resuscitation attempt and naloxone was used in only 17% of deaths in 2020 and 2021.

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 approval enabled the search for a location for supervised consumption services to progress. An interim emergency site will support people who use substances in a safe environment.

Supervised drug consumption services help prevent and reverse overdoses, decrease the spread of infectious diseases, and reduce public drug use.

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:

To receive a copy of the study in an accessible format you can email us.

Steps to opening a supervised consumption site in Peel

People who use substances trust Moyo Health and Community Services, making it an ideal operator of interim supervised consumption services. WellFort Community Health Services will provide nursing assessment and care once the site is open.

Several steps will be taken before opening a supervised consumption site, and regular engagement will guide the process.

Secure a site (July to November 2022)

Prepare for operations (July 2022 to January 2023)

Anticipated site opening (January to March 2023)

Reducing deaths and harm

In partnership with community agencies, Peel Public Health offers sterile drug-use supplies, distributes naloxone, and offers overdose prevention and naloxone training. Refer to the Peel Needle Exchange Program to find out how to access services in Peel.

Programs like the Peel Works Needle Exchange Program help reduce harmful health effects for people who use substances, including the spread of infectious diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C, and preventing fatal overdoses. All levels of government and local organizations are part of ongoing efforts to save lives.

Access responding to Canada’s opioid crisis and Ontario’s opioid response for more information.

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.

Related:

Treatment

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:

  • assessment
  • support groups
  • education
  • counselling
  • 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 the Canadian government to decriminalize simple drug possession. 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.

Alternatives to criminalization can minimize harm from substance use. Peel Public Health is exploring policy options appropriate for our community with stakeholders and people who use substances.

We will establish a working group to discuss drug criminalization. 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.