Greater Sudbury Summit on Toxic Drugs concludes, paves the way for collective action on toxic drug crisis

The conclusion of the two-day Greater Sudbury Summit on Toxic Drugs (Summit) marks a milestone and critical point for collective action. This first-of-its-kind event for the city has set the stage for a more unified community response to the toxic drug crisis—emphasizing collaboration, compassion, and evidence-based approaches.

“Just as every person who uses substances has their own path and unique needs, we understand there is no one-size-fits-all solution to this crisis. This is a complex issue. If it were easy and there were ready-made solutions, we wouldn’t have had the need to gather over these two days. We are grateful to participants for their eagerness to listen, coming ready to discuss ideas, and for their openness to others’ perspectives,” said René Lapierre, Chair for the Board of Health for Public Health Sudbury & Districts.

Over the one- and one-half days, participants heard that the number of people dying from opioid toxicity increased by over 500% from 2017 to 2020 and that accidental overdoses are the leading cause of deaths in people under the age of 50. These numbers were underscored by the powerful stories and comments shared by those with lived and living experience of the toxic drug crisis who shared their pain, about losing loved ones, and losing connection to community, work, and family.

The Summit brought people into the same room to gain a shared understanding and help open hearts and minds to create more connections to build hope and optimism.

Opportunities identified for further exploration to create a more comprehensive community response to the toxic drug crisis include ideas around safer supply, safer spaces for people to use substances, supportive housing, better care coordination and collaboration of care pathways, a centre for excellence in mental health and substance use, and at the core of everything, connection, respect for those who use substances, the elimination of structural stigma, and a philosophy of do no harm.

The collaboration at the Summit will hopefully lead to the realization of the Summit vision and guide Greater Sudbury toward a healthier and safer future. Public Health Sudbury & Districts and the City of Greater Sudbury are grateful to everyone who played a role in organizing, contributing to, and participating in creating a safe space for open discussion to explore innovative ideas to prevent drug-related harm and deaths.

The City of Greater Sudbury, Public Health Sudbury & Districts, Health Sciences North, the Canadian Mental Health Association, Réseau ACCESS Network, and the Greater Sudbury Police Service, as well as the Indigenous community and persons with lived and living experience will review the recommendations and learnings from the Summit and among other things, consider a process and community structure to carry this important work forward in a coordinated manner. Boards, organizations, and individuals are asked to continue to work together to action the opportunities identified as a result of the event. In the new year, a comprehensive report will be published to provide details on discussions, decisions, and opportunities in tackling this complex issue. For more information on the Summit, visit

This item was last modified on December 8, 2023