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Backgrounder for the Greater Sudbury Summit on Toxic Drugs
Local context for the drug toxicity crisis
Since 2016, Canadians have been confronted with an increasingly unpredictable and toxic drug supply resulting in fatal and non-fatal drug poisonings (overdoses). In June 2023, Dr. Huyer, Chief Coroner for Ontario presented Learning from the dead to protect the living: Coroner investigations of opioid toxicity deaths in Sudbury to City of Greater Sudbury (CGS) Council. The findings included local data which confirms the devastating local impact of the toxic drug crisis. In alignment with Dr. Huyer’s recommendations, the City of Greater Sudbury and Public Health Sudbury & Districts committed to host a drug toxicity leadership summit in the fall, now scheduled for December 7 and 8, 2023.
- Between 2013 and 2022, there were 551 individuals who died from drug-related toxicity in Sudbury and districts, 116 of which occurred in 2022.
- Since 2018, the rate of individuals dying from opioid toxicity in Ontario increased by almost 60 per cent, from 10.5 to 16.7 per 100 000 and the rate in Northern Ontario increased by 139 per cent. Over the same period, the rate in Greater Sudbury increased by 193 per cent, from 18.4 to 54.0 per 100 000.
- In 2022, approximately 94 per cent of deaths of individuals who overdosed involved some sort of opioid, 82 per cent involved fentanyl.
- That same year, 47.8 per cent of the individuals who died of overdose in Sudbury had inhalation as the sole mode of use.
- 47 per cent of these people’s deaths also involved cocaine and 35% involved methamphetamines.
- There have been 1176 visits with 1662 consumptions at ‘The Spot’, our supervised consumption site, between its inception on September 28, 2022 and September 30, 2023.
The summit is designed to be a forum for community leadership* to examine the current magnitude of and response to the drug toxicity crisis in Greater Sudbury, with the goal of determining actionable next steps, processes, and structures to mitigate harms and ensure accountability.
*Community leadership is broadly defined and includes the knowledge and expertise of those affected by substance use
- The Summit’s executive sponsors are Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, Medical Officer of Health and Chief Executive Officer for Public Health Sudbury & Districts and Ed Archer, Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Greater Sudbury
- A planning committee was formed by invitation by René Lapierre, Chair for the Board of Health for Public Health Sudbury & Districts. It is co-chaired by Sandra Laclé, Director for Public Health Sudbury & Districts and Tyler Campbell, Director of Children and Social Services for City of Greater Sudbury
- The Summit will bring together experts and community leaders, including people with lived and living experience, partners from various sectors including government officials, policymakers, education, healthcare professionals and providers, law enforcement agencies, public health experts, harm reduction specialists, addiction treatment and recovery professionals, researchers, and academics.
The Greater Sudbury Summit on Toxic Drugs aims to:
- address the escalating drug toxicity crisis in our region;
- explore innovative strategies to prevent drug-related harm by bringing together key stakeholders from various sectors; and
- develop a comprehensive and collaborative approach to tackle this complex issue.
- Facilitate knowledge exchange of research, insights, and best practices in mitigating the individual and societal harms of the complex toxic drug crisis, including consideration of harm reduction, treatment, prevention, and enforcement.
- Create actionable consensus and commit to concrete next steps that will prevent drug toxicity-related harms and death.
- Identify short-, medium-, and long-term goals and commit to addressing structural inequities, fostering environments where individuals can thrive.
- Create a structure responsible for the advancement of recommendations from the Summit, ensuring accountability.
“In the face of a relentless drug crisis that has touched so many people in every corner of the country, we must remember that behind each statistic lies a person with loved ones. Our collective duty is to offer empathy, understanding, and hope as we focus on protecting communities and providing support along everyone’s unique journey.”
– Penny Sutcliffe,
Medical Officer of Health and Chief Executive Officer
Public Health Sudbury & Districts
“In addition to local efforts initiated in response to the drug toxicity crisis, the level of collaboration from this Summit is a new approach for our region. The Summit will bring together diverse leadership to facilitate the type of information sharing that will highlight gaps in the current approach and seek to identify actionable solutions.”
– Sandra Laclé,
Co-Chair Leadership Summit Planning Committee
Public Health Sudbury & Districts
“The main goal of the Summit is for local community leaders to work together to develop ideas, commit to new strategies, and remain accountable in addressing the crisis. We are eager to see what potential solutions are identified as we know our region requires unique action in response to this crisis.”
– Tyler Campbell
Co-Chair Leadership Summit Planning Committee
Director of Children & Social Services
City of Greater Sudbury
Board of Health for Public Health Sudbury & Districts
Motion carried June 15, 2023: Drug/Opioid Crisis Leadership Summit (Motion #39-23)
Greater Sudbury City Council
Resolution carried June 13, 2023: CGS Motion CC2023-117
Frequently asked questions
What is the toxic drug crisis?
The toxic drug crisis refers to the accidental deaths caused by a street drug supply that is toxic. This supply is toxic because as it is unregulated, can be mixed with toxic additives, and/or have higher than expected amounts. Drugs can include deadly concentrations of opioids such as fentanyl and fentanyl analogues, benzodiazepines (sedatives), and xylazine (animal tranquilizer). As a result, those dependent on this drug supply are suffering from overdoses at an alarming rate.
What is drug poisoning (overdose)?
A drug poisoning or overdose occurs when a person uses more of a substance, or combination of substances, than their body can handle. The brain is then unable to control basic life functions. The person might pass out, stop breathing, or experience a seizure. Overdoses can be fatal.
What is the current state of the toxic drug crisis in northern Ontario?
Northern Ontario’s death rate from toxic drug poisonings is three times higher than the rest of the province (Office of the Chief Coroner, 2023). The Sudbury and Manitoulin districts continuously surpass poisoning (overdose) provincial death rates, even reaching top national death rates considering its population size. The Community Drug Strategy for the City of Greater Sudbury publishes opioid surveillance information to help individuals access accurate information to help them understand the impact of opioid use in our community.
Who will be at the Greater Sudbury Summit on Toxic Drugs?
Community and Indigenous leaders, and people with lived and living experience, alongside partners from various sectors, including government officials, policymakers, educators, healthcare professionals, law enforcement agencies, public health experts, harm reduction specialists, addiction treatment and recovery professionals, researchers, and academics.
What can the community expect after the Summit?
After the Summit, the planning committee will compile the results and share them with participants, local partners, and community. By incorporating a wide range of perspectives, we hope to explore innovative solutions to address and mitigate harms of this crisis.
- Drug toxicity and mortality rates in Sudbury and Districts
- Supervised Consumption Services Needs Assessment and Feasibility Study (2020)
- Media release (2020): Study finds Greater Sudbury would benefit from supervised consumption services
This item was last modified on November 8, 2023