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Ontario Medical Association's Prescription for northern Ontario

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Sudbury -

The opioid crisis is an ongoing problem in the north and officials in the area are actively speaking out looking for ways to improve the situation.

Right now, there are over 200 crosses on display at the Crosses for Change memorial in Sudbury, each one representing a life lost in an opioid overdose.

On Sunday, representatives from the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) visited the downtown memorial at the corner of Brady Street and Paris Street in hopes of drawing more attention to the opioid crisis and mental health issues in northern Ontario.

"Sudbury alone has a shortage of approximately 40 psychiatrists. We know that they have struggles with infrastructure with acute and sub-acute beds for mental health and addictions services and so this is part of our plan for the future and its important that we come up here and meet with leaders and communities that have been affected by all of the changes that have happened in health care and that's the reason why we're here. We're excited to be here," said Dr. Adam Kassam, the OMA president.

Meanwhile, the association is launching northern health care recommendations called Prescription for Northern Ontario in Sudbury on Monday.

The plan is to address health care challenges and service gaps in the region and contains a dozen recommendations to address the unique needs in the north including the chronic doctor shortage, lack of high-speed internet and reliable connectivity, as well as unsafe drinking water and inadequate health care facilities and resources in Indigenous communities.

It is part of a bigger master plan for the province called Prescription for Ontario: Doctors' 5-Point Plan for Better Health Care which includes 75 province-wide recommendations to be implemented over the next four years.

"The OMA recognizes that the northern disparities in health care have existed for many years but the COVID-19 pandemic has made these gaps more visible and the need for solutions more urgent," Kassam said at a news conference Monday at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. 

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