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Ontario Harm Reduction Network

The Ontario Harm Reduction Network (OHRN) supports harm reduction efforts in Ontario by providing training, networking opportunities and consultations to service providers and agencies.

A message from OHRN

Hi <<First Name>>,

Since the release of our first quarterly newsletter, much has happened in the world for us to reflect on and act upon on: a significant rise in overdose deaths; anti-Indigenous and anti-Black racism; police violence; ongoing homophobia and transphobia; and a COVID19 response which has left too many at risk, especially homeless folks. June marks several events that we hope highlight how we are all connected and will bring forward critical change.

Specifically in June, we note: Pride Month; Juneteenth; National Indigenous Peoples Day; Brain Injury Awareness Month; and the release of devastating overdose data in Ontario. Read more about these events HERE.

Let us not forget that it was Trans Women of Colour at the forefront of change decades ago. We hope you have a safe and reflective Pride.

Black Lives Matter

Indigenous Lives Matter
Black Health Alliance

The 2020 Black Experiences in Health Care Symposium Report 

Bringing Together Community and Health Systems for Improved Health Outcomes 

Read the full report, executive summary and data report.

Black Lives Matter demonstration image from "Defunding The Police Will Save Black And Indigenous Lives In Canada" article

Defunding The Police Will Save Black And Indigenous Lives In Canada

Sandy Hudson, Special To HuffPost, June 3, 2020

Sandy Hudson: "Right now, the only emergency option available for most people who are experiencing mental distress is to call 911. Both D’Andre Campbell and Regis Korchinski-Paquet died while the police were attending to calls about their mental distress.
Couldn’t we create a new emergency service that connects us with unarmed, mental health emergency service workers specifically trained to provide the health and social care required in crisis situations?"

Read the article.

2015 Samer Muscati/Human Rights Watch

Systemic Inequities Increase Covid-19 Risk for Indigenous People in Canada

Challenges Include Barriers to Healthcare, Adequate Housing and Resources - Human Rights Watch, June 9, 2020

Across Canada, public health officials are expressing cautious optimism that efforts to contain Covid-19 are proving effective . But Canadians should recognize Indigenous communities are still at risk.

Canada’s record in protecting the rights of Indigenous peoples is abysmal. And it is precisely because of the systemic inequities and discrimination these communities face that Indigenous people may suffer disproportionately from Covid-19.

Continue reading.

Afro Indigenous Rising (AIR)

Protesters have occupied Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto with tents

The peaceful protest, led by community collective Afro Indigenous Rising (AIR), has been ongoing since last Friday.

AIR 's demands include the end to anti-Black racism and police brutality, and the end to violence against Indigenous communities.

Find out more.

Canadian Black and Anti-racist Groups you can support now
OHRN Resources

OHRN Black Lives Matter Solidarity Statement and Resources

The Ontario Harm Reduction Network (OHRN) stands in solidarity with Black communities in Canada, the U.S. and around the world to actively resist anti-Black racism, white-supremacy, police violence and systemic injustices against Black communities. We call for justice for Black communities who have been subjected to police violence and the inexcusable deaths that have resulted.

Keep reading.

OHRN + EENet/PSSP Co-hosted Webinar: Drug Use and Harm Reduction During COVID-19

Objectives:

  • To understand the particular risk factors for People Who Use Drugs (PWUD) during COVID-19
  • To highlight examples of innovative Ontario harm reduction responses
View the webinar recording or download the event resources.

COVID-19: Infection prevention and control for harm reduction workers in Ontario

Recording available

Harm reduction workers provide essential services for people who use drugs and are still working closely with clients during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, doing outreach, distributing harm reduction supplies and reversing overdoses. Workers must take additional precautions to protect themselves and their clients from COVID-19.

This webinar will cover infection prevention and control practices, including the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), for people working in harm reduction in Ontario.

View webinar recording.

Screenshot of webinar showing Christopher Hoy and Agenda slide for "COVID-19: Infection prevention and control for harm reduction workers in Ontario"
Voices from the field

Connnecting with Care Toronto explores the Toronto Hep C Program to understand what the meaningful involvement of people with lived experience in HCV care delivery looks like.

CATIE video still Keith Community Health Worker, Toronto Community Hep C Program
We were excited to see Keith and Jennifer part of this CATIE video series done in collaboration with INSHU, featuring the stories of people working in the Toronto Hep C Care Program. Keith and Jennifer are part of our provincial network of harm reduction outreach workers, The Outreach Network (TON)

Watch Keith's video.

Watch Jennifer's video.
CATIE video still of Jennifer Broad, Community Health Worker, Toronto Community Hep C Program
On the frontlines of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is continually changing how we work and live in challenging and drastic ways. We commend all of you for continuing to serve on the frontline and provide essential supports for people who use drugs across Ontario. We will continue to gather resources and information related to COVID-19 and harm reduction work at the link below. See below for some recent resources we wanted to highlight.

Find COVID-19 resources

Creating Effective Organizational Harm Reduction Policies & Culture in the Context of COVID 19

During COVID-19, shelter and housing workers are working tirelessly to keep people safe. Harm reduction means recognizing and accepting that substance use is happening with goal to reduce harms. It does not mean turning a blind eye, or having policies that hide use or push substance use into public spaces. In this follow up to the webinar—"Harm Reduction Policies and Practices During COVID-19"—Bernie Pauly will discuss a framework for creating effective organizational harm reduction policies and culture in the context of COVID-19.

Infographics on Mental Health and Substance Use During COVID-19 

Developed by Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA)

Drug Market Trends: People who use drugs, COVID-19 and drug market changes

Canadian Association of People Who Use Drugs (CAPUD)
Participants were asked what the biggest change in the drug supply (from their perspective) since COVID19?

  • Availability: 73.7%
  • Accessibility: 52.6%
  • Potency: 47.4%
  • Price: 68.4%
  • Fear of increased surveillance: 10.6%
  • Fear of criminalization: 10.6%
  • Haven’t noticed any change: 10.6%
View the powerpoint or help CAPUD collect drug market information.
Drugs Uncut Logo - A Scottish Drugs Forum Podcast

Harm reduction innovations under lockdown

‘Drugs Uncut’ – the Scottish Drugs Forum podcast

In this episode, the second looking at responses to the outbreak, Drugs Uncut is joined by Sophie Given, Scottish Drugs Forum’s Officer for Harm Reduction and Emergency Responses, to find out how the lockdown is impacting on people’s access to harm reduction services, such as sterile injecting equipment, and how services are adapting through innovation and collaboration.

Listen to the podcast.

Methamphetamine, the Respiratory System and COVID-19

Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA)
Key Messages:

  • Regular methamphetamine use may adversely affect the health of the lungs and heart.
  • Animal studies show that methamphetamine can decrease immune system function, which can increase susceptibility to infections and severity of diseases, potentially including COVID-19.
  • Using more than one substance regularly is common among people who use methamphetamine and can compound health problems.
Read the report.

Outreach Work during the COVID-19 epidemic

Correlation: European Harm Reduction Network

This 2 hour June 2020 webinar includes experts in the field of outreach, Harm Reduction professionals, community members, and drug users rights representatives. Participants had the opportunity to share insights and inform each other on recent developments in their practice, challenges experienced by their communities and the impact of COVID19 on outreach in Europe.

Listen to the webinar.

COVID-19 – What We Know So Far About… Social Determinants of Health

Synopsis, Public Health Ontario (PHO)
Key Points:

  • Early findings demonstrate an unequal social and economic burden of COVID-19 internationally, with emerging evidence of this relationship from Ontario and Quebec.
  • Social determinants of health (SDOH), such as gender, socioeconomic position, race/ethnicity, occupation, Indigeneity, homelessness and incarceration, play an important role in risk of COVID-19 infection, particularly when they limit ability to maintain physical distancing.
  • Existing social inequities in health increase risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes through increased prevalence of underlying medical conditions and/or decreased access to health care.
Read More.

Non-medical Masks and Face Coverings

Public Health Ontario (PHO)

Wearing non-medical masks or face coverings may be an added way to protect others around you, particularly where physical distancing may be challenging.

See resource for guidance and instructions.
Data

Opioid-related harms in Canada 2019 Report

Download the full report or visit the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Total Numbers:

  • 15,393 apparent opioid-related deaths occurred between January 2016 and December 2019 in Canada
  • In 2019, between January and December, 3,823 deaths occurred nationally, of which 94% were accidental (unintentional). In 2019, 1535 deaths occurred in Ontario, of which 1437 were accidental.
  • In 2019, between January and December, there were 4,435 hospitalizations due to opioid-related poisoning, of which 62% were accidental (unintentional).
Decriminalize simple drug possession
Get connected with the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network about Support. Don't Punish. 
Read this article about decriminalizing simple drug possession.

What’s in the Unregulated Drug Supply? An Update from Toronto’s Drug Checking Service

Combined results from samples checked by Toronto’s drug checking service between April 1 – June 15, 2020, are now available. Download the full report or visit the Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation.

Key Findings:

  • 46% of the samples checked were expected to be fentanyl
  • Benzodiazepine or benzodiazepine-related drugs were found alongside fentanyl in 37% of the expected fentanyl samples checked
  • Between May 20 – June 5, 2020, a “new” synthetic cannabinoid, known as ACHMINACA, was found in 30% of the opioid samples checked. No publicly available information has linked ACHMINACA to opioids anywhere else in Canada. In response, Toronto’s drug checking service has shared an ACHMINACA alert to inform people who use drugs, as well as those who support and provide care for them.

Global Drug Survey Interim Report: Special Edition on COVID-19

The Global Drug Survey (GDS) Special Edition on COVID-19 was developed as part of a global effort to better understand the impact of the pandemic on people’s lives with a specific focus on the use of alcohol and other drugs, mental health and relationships.

Read the interim report or visit the Global Drug Survey site.

Annual Mental Health Index survey

Children’s Mental Health Ontario (CMHO) and Addictions and Mental Health Ontario (AMHO)

Ipsos Public Affairs Annual Mental Health Index survey shows that two-thirds of Ontarians (67%) feel that the mental health impacts of COVID-19 are going to be serious and lasting. Almost three quarters (74%) of respondents feel that Ontarians are experiencing increased mental health and addictions challenges as a result of COVID-19.

Read the AMHO media release.

Changes Related to COVID-19 in the Illegal Drug Supply and Access to Services, and Resulting Health Harms (CCENDU Alert)

Changes Related to COVID-19 in the Illegal Drug Supply and Access to Services, and Resulting Health Harms (CCENDU Alert)

This alert is based on information collected by the Canadian Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Use (CCENDU) between March 31 and May 10, 2020. It focuses on the impact of containment efforts related to COVID-19 on the illegal drug supply and access to services, and the associated health harms.

Read the alert.
Best Practices

Substance Use Policy Guide for ASOs

Ontario Organizational Development Program (OODP)

This Policy Guide & Template is intended to support ASO leaders to build successful policies and best practices that will enhance the capacity of our sector to meaningfully involve people with lived experience of substance use in the effective delivery of all ASO services and programs.

Read and download the guide.

Safer Opioid Supply Programs (SOS): A Harm Reduction Informed Guiding Document for Primary Care Teams

Updated April 2020

The community-based Safer Opioid Supply program (SOS) is intended to serve as one part of a collective response to the ongoing overdose crisis. It is a harm reduction driven, public health approach to providing a safer, pharmaceutical drug supply to adults who use illicit drugs in Ontario and are at high risk of overdose.


Access this guiding document.
Resources

Gendering the Scene: Women, Gender-Diverse People, and Harm Reduction In Canada – Summary Report

Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network (aidslaw.ca)

This summary report highlights the state of harm reduction services in Canada in the context of gender and reviews the impacts on women and gender-diverse people that have been largely ignored until now.

Download the report.

Is Safe Supply a Viable Option to the Overdose Crisis? | Guy Felicella | TEDxBearCreekPark

There's More to G Than C*ck

Global Drug Survey 2016

Gina, GHB, water, "the devil's club soda" here's a cute and informative dose and dosage video from the UK that if you like to swirl, you gotta watch.

Watch this animated video... that is not so same for (some) workplaces.
News
People stand in front of The Works after the supervised injection site reopened in Toronto in April with fencing in place to ensure there is physical distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Michael Charles Cole/CBC

Pandemic worsens Canada's deadly opioid overdose epidemic: Ontario's coroner reported a 25% rise in fatal overdoses as advocates warn of increasingly toxic street drugs - CBC News, June 10, 2020

Drug Users Liberation Front banner Vice News image

Activists in Vancouver Gave Out Free Cocaine to Highlight Overdose Crisis: Organizers called out the B.C. government for allowing drug users to die in record numbers while pouring resources into its COVID-19 response. - Vice News, June 24, 2020

Addiction program for Indigenous adults goes virtual: Wanaki Center turning to Zoom to continue treatment program -
CBC News, June 21, 2020

War on drugs causes aggressive policing, says expert - Rice University, Phys.org, June 10, 2020

CBC News Dr. Jonny Grek

Kenora pilot project aims to connect homeless with employment: Early reaction to the Compassion Building Capacity project has been good, says organizer - CBC News, June 4, 2020

Giving Alcohol, Nicotine, Marijuana to Isolated Homeless People Is Harm Reduction - Filter Mag, June 3, 2020

In Guelph, Canada's other epidemic flares up Globe and Mail image

In Guelph, Canada’s other epidemic flares up - The Globe and Mail, June 2, 2020

From our community partners

CATIE

These client brochures are for people who use crack or crystal meth, or for anyone who would like information to support safer crack or crystal meth smoking. It includes illustrations of the supplies used, tips on safer smoking, mouth care and preventing hepatitis C, and how to recognize and respond to overamping and overdose.

GMSH and InfoPNP

InfoPNP is an  new online community of 125 + guys from across Ontario who party n play. This open, peer led online community is a hub for guys to connect with resources, share harm reduction skills, ask questions and discuss the issues impacting their lives. Hosted by the GMSH, InfoPnP is open to any guy in Ontario with current or past experience with party n’ play, and its completely private, meaning guys don’t have to fear disclosure to their wider networks. Find the group here at https://www.facebook.com/groups/infopnp/ . Interested community organizations who want to promote a service or support through InfoPNP can contact group moderator Jordan Bond-Gorr at jbondgorr@gmsh.ca.

Upcoming

Webinar: Personal Protective Equipment and Non-Medical Masks in Congregate

Public Health Ontario (PHO)

The presentation will be the same on three different dates and open to administrators and staff members from any congregate living setting; however, participants may choose to register as follows to make the question and answer period more relevant to the various types of congregate living settings:

  • Shelters – Tuesday, July 7, 2020, 3 – 4 p.m.
  • Group homes – Wednesday, July 8, 2020, 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.
  • Other types of congregate living settings – Thursday, July 9, 2020, 3 – 4 p.m.

Register for an upcoming date.

Weathered

A digital photography exhibition & fundraising campaign raising awareness for overdose death.

Weathered is asking families to produce memorialized photographs of shoes and mementos belonging to loved ones who have lost their lives to an overdose. Weathered sets out to raise awareness for overdose death and funds for Street Health's Overdose Prevention Site.

All photograph submissions will be accepted (June 1st - July 6th, 2020). We encourage everyone, regardless of skill level, to submit a memorialized photograph with a written description about their loved one.

Get more information.

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