International Overdose Awareness Day recognized by advocacy groups at Saskatchewan Legislature

The other pandemic is the focus of an awareness campaign at the Legislature Tuesday.

Several community organizations have come together to put out 1,681 wooden crosses to represent all of the people who have died from an opioid overdose since 2010.

Sarah Kozusko from the Queen City Wellness Pharmacy and Harm Reduction Coalition says COVID-19 has made the opioid pandemic worse.

“A lot of the resources that people that were suffering from addictions were utilizing before aren’t available right now,” Kozusko said. “A lot of the mental health and addictions services aren’t available, public health has gone to (COVID-19) pandemic stuff instead of STI’s, harm reduction, and the opioid crisis.

“We can only get people into harm reduction doctors four days a week in Regina, and only if you can get there before 1:00 or 2:00 in the afternoon, and that is just not meeting the need.”

Kozusko says the event is to bring awareness to the opioid pandemic, in hopes more people will advocate for this issue.

“Hopefully, one more person will advocate for this, one more person will talk to their MP (Member of Parliament) that all of these lives matter,” Kozusko said. “All of these people that died of overdoses, they’re important. They were parents, children, aunts, and uncles, and some of them had secret struggles that other people didn’t know about, and some people had very open struggles that everybody knew about, and there was no resources there to help them.”

NDP critic for Social Services and Community-Based Organizations Meara Conway also attended the event. She says the opposition supports calls for more funding for evidence-based supports such as safe consumption sites.

“What they’re asking for (Tuesday) is funding for community-based harm reduction,” Conway said. “We know that internal government documents support the fact that those save lives and save money, there’s no excuse for the provincial government to not fund those.”

This comes after the province denied funding in the 2021 provincial budget for a safe consumption site in Saskatoon.

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