Two Timmins doctors continue to push for a community-based solution to the local opioid crisis
TIMMINS -- Doctors Louisa Marion-Bellemare and Julie Samson sat before Timmins City Council on Tuesday night looking for support.
They are meeting with as many boards and committees as possible to advise them that people with addictions to opioids require evidence-based medical treatment that's currently not being offered in Timmins.
The doctors say fentanyl and the tainted opioid drug supply in Timmins are killing people because they can't be treated in the same ways as people with addictions to other drugs such as alcohol or cocaine.
"The reason why medical treatment is important is that we're providing them with medication that doesn't give them the full effect of the opiate, but allows it to calm the brain down, to calm down the withdrawals, to allow them to not feel sick so that they can engage further in treatment," said Marion-Bellemare.
She said with Timmins having the highest rate of opioid overdose fatalities in Ontario in 2019 and the statistics are looking even higher for 2020, she said changes need to be made now.
While Dr. Marion-Bellemere said she wouldn't say "no" to more funding for addictions services, she said Timmins already receives $2.1 million and it could be used differently to reflect the needs and demands.
"We don't really know how many people are being seen or what exactly is going on in those facilities, so I think another big piece is we need to start being accountable for our actions. Keeping statistics on how many people are treated, relapses and these sorts of things in our community so we can be accountable to our community. So we can prove that we are making changes and they are doing this in other communities in northern Ontario," said Marion-Bellemere.
Timmins city councillors expressed their shock at the situation and promised to stand by the doctors.
"We can't be doing what we've always done because we're going to end up in a worse situation. So really, facing our current situation, gathering everyone up and moving forward together is really what we need to do," said Kristin Murray, councillor for Ward 5.
"This is what council's charged with. We can change. We have the moral authority to change the apathy regarding this crisis that we're facing," said Timmins Mayor George Pirie.
The doctors are hoping that if treatment delivery can change--like it already has in other northern cities--fewer deaths will occur.