There is an opioid crisis in Bruce and Grey counties and municipal leaders must be aware of their role in addressing the issue.
That was the message presented to Saugeen Shores Committee of the Whole by the Chief Nursing Officer and Program Manager of the Grey Bruce Health Unit Sarah Ellis and the Program Director of Hope Grey Bruce addiction services Dave Roy.
The pair has been addressing councils in the region to bring attention to the problem that municipal leaders can't ignore.
Ellis says in the past 14 years opioid-related visits to hospital ER's in Bruce and Grey have tripled.
Tragically between 2010 and 2014, there have been 9 confirmed deaths attributed to fentanyl overdoses in Bruce and Grey.
Ellis says some headway in addressing the problem is being made.
She says, "All pharmacists and physicians are familiar with the new
prescribing guidelines which prescribe much lower doses of opioids to start with and suggest alternative therapies."
Roy says addictions should not be viewed as a crime but rather as a health issue.
Roy states, "We see it very clearly as being a health concern and should be responded to in kind."
On the front lines, dealing with the crisis are members of the Saugeen Shores Police Service.
Board Chair and Deputy Mayor of Saugeen Shores Luke Charbonneau says "It's frustrating and sad that there are so many people out there in our community.......that have this problem and it's something our police officers are dealing with every single day."
Charbonneau says police services is developing a policy to equip officers with naloxone (nah-LOX-own) to protect the police and to help residents in need.
Naloxone is a medication used to block the effects of opioids, especially in overdose situations.
The presenters left council with numbers to think about.
In 2014, there were 481 motor vehicle deaths.
In that same year, there were 673 deaths that were opioid-related.