Calls for Ottawa to provide access to safe drug supply grow louder to stem overdose deaths

With the number of illicit overdose deaths on track to mirror last year's historic and grim tally -- the call is getting louder for Ottawa to create access to a safe drug supply.

Between January and the end of November 1,381 people died in this province,  just 1 less than the same period last year.

Leslie McBain, co-founder of Moms Stop the Harm, says while harm reduction strategies have prevented numbers from being even more alarming -- the stigma of addiction continues to claim lives.

McBain says the majority of the deaths occurred behind closed doors -- out of sight. She says parallels can be drawn between the toxic drug supply now, and the alcohol supply during prohibition:

" What happened was a toxic supply was rolled out , and people died, and there were gangs, and there was lots of money to me made, and families broke up and all the pretty much same dynamics are happening now with opioids. And the government in its infinite wisdom realized prohibition wasn't working so alcohol then became legal, and regulated, and safe."

McBain says there's no such thing as opioids on the street that are not contaminated with fentanyl, or something stronger -- but that's where addicts are forced to get what they need:

" I think we need to look very much in 2019 at how to press the government to decriminalize people who use and possess drugs for their own personal use. They've done that in Portugal with great success over a period of almost 19 years now. We need to look at that. We need to look at this as a crisis, and have maybe what we might think of as radical measures to stop the deaths."

Every day this year an average of 4 people a day died from illicit-drug overdoses.

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