The Huntsville OPP detachment is raising the alarm about the “growing number of overdoses and deaths caused by opioids.”
Constable Jeff Handsor points out that Health Canada declared the recent rise a public health crisis. Meanwhile, in April 2022, Cathy Eisener, Public Health Nurse with the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Health Unit’s Substance Use and Injury Prevention Program, said that opioid-related deaths have been on the rise during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Handsor adds that police have seen a rise in the “inadvertent use of fentanyl,” which he says is causing people to overdose despite them never realizing they took opioids.
When responding to a “complex” opioid-related call, Handsor says it requires a “collaborative effort,” which involves the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act.
“The act protects the person who seeks help, whether they stay or leave from the overdose scene before help arrives,” Handsor explains. “The act also protects anyone else who is at the scene when help arrives.”
The act, he explains, protects those who call 911 to report an overdose from being charged for possession of a controlled substance, including for cannabis, breach of parole, bail, probation orders, and conditional sentences in regards to possession of a controlled substance. However, Handsor points out it doesn’t protect anyone from “more serious offences” like the production and trafficking of a controlled substance, outstanding warrants, violating parole, bail, probation order, or conditional sentence conditions, as well as all other criminal offences.
“The OPP enlists the help of other professionals and various local agencies to identify and work through the problem collectively, by providing support and resources,” Handsor says. “It is imperative that officers uphold the law but also work towards the root cause of the problem, to limit further interaction with police and prevent criminality.”