Official Opposition Critic for Mental Health and Addictions, Doyle Vermette, today issued the following statement on International Overdose Awareness Day:
“As we mark International Overdose Awareness Day, I think of the far too many lives that have been lost to an overdose death. Each overdose death is a personal tragedy and my heart goes out to every family that has had to experience the loss of their loved one under such horrific circumstances.
“Over the last five years the amount of deaths confirmed by the Saskatchewan Coroners Service to be due to overdose has risen from 91 in 2015 to 281 in 2020. This number is expected to rise yet again for 2021. This is unacceptable and more must be done to protect Saskatchewan people and families.
“Today, it is important to properly recognize the incredible work done by so many inspirational citizens to meet the seriousness this crisis demands. People like Jason Mercredi and the Prairie Harm Reduction team, Ret Brailsford and the Regina Harm Reduction Coalition, people and citizen-led groups who do excellent work across our province every single day to meet the challenges of the overdose crisis.
“While I am incredibly grateful to know I live in a province where community organizations step-up - Saskatchewan’s citizens should not continue to be asked to fill the void of leadership created by Scott Moe’s refusal to properly fund services shown by the evidence to reduce harm and save lives.
“Safe-consumption sites are needed and should not have to rely on community fundraisers to provide services. Naloxone kits should be readily accessible across the province. Organizations who save lives should know they have sustainable, predictable funding to do their work.
“The provincial government needs to do the right thing and immediately commit to support our community partners to reduce harm, and to save more lives. It is the very least they could commit to today.”