Toronto continues to be in the midst of a drug poisoning emergency. Rates of non-fatal and fatal opioid poisoning are increasing. The unregulated opioid supply is now dominated by fentanyl, which has replaced heroin/morphine as the most commonly present opioid in accidental overdose deaths in Toronto. In addition, the unregulated fentanyl supply contains varying concentrations of fentanyl, as well as unexpected drugs such as benzodiazepines.
In response to this crisis, Toronto Public Health has taken action in a number of areas, including opening the city’s first permanent supervised consumption service in August 2017. Located inside The Works, this life-saving health service provides a safer and hygienic environment for people to inject pre-obtained drugs under the supervision of qualified staff.
We also worked with community partners to develop the Toronto Overdose Action Plan, which was endorsed by the Board of Health in March 2017, and updated in June 2019. The Plan includes a comprehensive set of actions for all orders of government to prevent and respond to drug overdoses. Toronto Public Health continues to make recommendations for action to the Board of Health, in particular on actions needed to address the drug poisoning emergency, which has intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic. Reports were considered by the Board in June and November 2020.