Events are happening across the province to mark International Overdose Awareness Day as police release sobering statistics regarding the number of overdoses happening locally.
This year, Waterloo regional police say that emergency services responded to 779 overdoses in the region to date.
An event held by the Wellington Guelph Drug Strategy at St. George's Square on Monday morning sought to bring attention to the growing issue.
So far this year in Guelph, organizers say that there have been 15 overdose deaths, nearly double the amount of last year’s seven overdose fatalities.
“The Ontario coroner reported about a 40 per cent increase this year over last, in terms over fatal overdoses year to date,” said Adrienne Crowder, manager of the Wellington Guelph Drug Strategy.
Organizers say the day is meant to raise awareness and to break down the stigma.
The group is advocating provincial and federal governments for more help and add that a safe supply would help keep drugs off the street.
This event is also honour those who have died from overdoses.
Cambridge's House of Friendship announced that its new Addiction Treatment Centre was open at 562 Concession Road on Monday.
“We are incredibly grateful to Waterloo Region. So many people have walked with us through this journey, encouraging us and supporting us every step of the way,” Executive Director John Neufeld said in a news release. “It’s clear that this community understands the depth of the need for treatment for the men, women and families impacted by addiction, and is ready to support it.”
The centre said move-in started last week and treatment services are now available.
The project was supposed to be completed in 2018, but was delayed due to expansion plans and a fire in May of 2019 that caused significant damage to the building. The COVID-19 pandemic also resulted in some delays, the centre said.
“It’s exciting to be see this much-needed addiction treatment centre for Waterloo Region become a reality,” Tara Groves-Taylor, Addiction Services Director, said in the release. “This is more than a transformed building – it is a place where lives can be rebuilt, where families can begin again.”
Police are also reminding people never to use drugs alone, carry naloxone and call 911 is you suspect an overdose.