Addressing the toxic drug crisis: Report highlights priorities for Greater Sudbury

Today, Public Health Sudbury & Districts released a detailed report, Honouring Voices, Embracing Perspectives, Moving Forward: A Summary Report on the Greater Sudbury Summit on Toxic Drugs (PDF). The report documents the insights and priorities from the December 7 and 8, 2023, Greater Sudbury Summit on Toxic Drugs (Summit).

“The Summit was organized based on an understanding that we require unified efforts to stop the preventable deaths and suffering caused by toxic drugs in Greater Sudbury,” said Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, Medical Officer of Health for Public Health Sudbury & Districts. “Like puzzle pieces coming together, the Summit brought diverse leaders and perspectives together, including those with lived and living experience of substance use. We were challenged to use our heads and our hearts to better understand the human impacts and to figure out what more can be done. With an improved shared understanding, we are now better equipped to stop things that don’t work and ramp up things that do—focusing our energy on saving lives,” added Dr. Sutcliffe.

Summit participants identified overarching priorities including the need to address structural stigma, enhance collaboration, remove barriers to access, and secure sufficient funding for long-term impact. They also mapped out priority actions for the three streams of the Summit. The number one priority for each stream is:

  • Health promotion: Create a comprehensive strategy for youth that fosters resilience, ensuring that the voices of youths guide the development.
  • Wrap-around supports: Increase supportive, transitional, and affordable housing.
  • Substance use care: Identify a lead agency to assist in service navigation for people who use drugs and to highlight gaps in these services, enabling organizations to collectively address them.

Indigenous teachings were incorporated in all aspects of the Summit and are highlighted in the report—recognizing the importance of traditional practices and cultural approaches in addressing substance use.

“The Summit was a great opportunity for networking with people from all walks of life who share a commitment to addressing the toxic drug crisis. I am encouraged and hopeful for positive change to come,” said James Gough, Chair of the People with Lived and Living Experience Advisory Committee for the Greater Sudbury Summit on Toxic Drugs.

“The work is not done. The value of bringing people together to share ideas and hear from those most affected by the crisis allowed us to collectively get behind evidence-based solutions that can be tailored to Greater Sudbury. While individually, each organization is instrumental in actioning priorities contained in the report—together, we must ensure we are coordinated and accountable to our entire community and move toward a hopeful, brighter, and safer future for all,” said Ed Archer, Chief Administrative Officer at the City of Greater Sudbury.

Throughout the day-and-a-half event, participants generated over 150 ideas to address the toxic drug crisis. The report summarizes this collaboration among nearly 200 leaders—with representation from over 70 agencies—all working to collectively improve conditions for those who use substances in Greater Sudbury.

As executive sponsors and co-chairs of the Coordinating Committee for the Greater Sudbury Summit on Toxic Drugs, Dr. Penny Sutcliffe and Ed Archer commend the extensive collaboration of everyone involved in determining next steps, processes, and structures to mitigate harms and ensure accountability in our community.

The Community Drug Strategy (CDS) for the City of Greater Sudbury will advance the Summit priorities, while simultaneously assessing its own operations to better align with the three streams of the Summit. The CDS will also explore creating a connection to community partners to ensure efforts are aligned, linked-up, and accountable. The meaningful inclusion of Indigenous voices and people with lived and living experiences will be key to fulfill the priorities.

Read the full Honouring Voices, Embracing Perspectives, Moving Forward: A Summary Report on the Greater Sudbury Summit on Toxic Drugs at

This item was last modified on January 31, 2024