Timmins’ Opioid Crisis Prompts Community Meetings with Minister Tibollo 
Ontario’s Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addiction made an impromptu visit to Timmins this week to discuss the current opioid crisis with community leaders and organizations.

On Tuesday, Minister Michael Tibollo met with Mayor George Pirie, Harry Jones, executive director of the Jubilee Centre, Tom Laughren, chair of the Jubilee Centre Board of Directors, and Centre staff to discuss the need for increased funding and capacity. The discussion turned to possible issues behind Timmins’ ongoing opioid crisis, namely access to service, after care, and limited funds and how the provincial government can help.

“We are fortunate that Minister Tibollo has a history of working with and for agencies that deal with mental health and addiction,” said Mayor George Pirie. “He brings a wealth of experience to the table and understands the frustrations we are facing waiting for sufficient funding and support from the government. Right now, our community-based agencies, like the Jubilee Centre, are doing yeoman’s work to tackle the crisis with limited assistance. We need more beds. We need consistent access to service. We need a model of care that gives our citizens the best possible options and outcome.”

Tuesday afternoon, Minister Tibollo also met with representatives of the new Fire Keeper’s Patrol program lead by Mushkegowuk Council. The meeting included Mushkegowuk Grand Chief Jonathan Solomon and Deputy Grand Chief Rebecca Friday, who spoke eloquently about the needs of the Indigenous community for culturally sensitive care that included ceremony and land-based healing. Mushkegowuk Council’s Director of Health Sylvina Rickard led the discussion, which highlighted the need for tradition and how intergenerational trauma, precipitated by the treatment of Indigenous peoples, particularly in the former residential school system, has led to mental health crises and substance abuse.

“A solution for the Indigenous community is tied to Canada’s on-going challenge of reconciliation,” adds Mayor Pirie. “It will need to be addressed by programs like the Fire Keeper’s Patrol that honour spiritual, emotional and physical healing backed by ceremony and tradition. The program has so far been fully funded by both the federal and provincial governments, but the work is just beginning.”

On Wednesday morning Minister Tibollo met with a panel of community leaders representing agencies directly working to address the opioid crisis. Representatives of the Porcupine Health Unit (PHU), Cochrane District Social Services Administration Board (CDSSAB), Timmins and District Hospital (TADH), Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Timmins Police Service (TPS), along with Mayor George Pirie and the City’s Chief Administration Officer Dave Landers, as well as Dr. Samson and Dr. Marion-Bellemare discussed the current model of care being used locally to address mental health and addictions.

“What our physicians and community partners have made abundantly clear is the need for 24/7 - 365 day services for intervention, stabilization and treatment of opioid addictions that has hit our community so hard,” said Mayor Pirie. “In particular, the discussion centered around the need for increasing the number of medical supported withdrawal management beds at the Timmins & District Hospital, and the need for medically supervised consumption to save lives.”

Minister Tibollo recognized the innovative treatment and intervention approaches that he has learned of in the community and committed to working with the community agencies and physicians to source out potential funding for a number of projects and service enhancements.
Posted by Amanda Dyer On 8/4/2021 at 2:47 PM  

 
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