Skip to main content

Mayors want national standard on collection, sharing of overdose death data

Mayors from 13 cities across Canada are calling for a national standard on the collection and sharing of data on overdose deaths along with medical treatment for addiction.

Alberta Law Enforcement Response

Mayors from 13 cities across Canada are calling for a national standard on the collection and sharing of data on overdose deaths along with medical treatment for addiction.

A task force they created has released its initial recommendations to the federal government as British Columbia marks a year since declaring a public health emergency over soaring overdose fatalities.

The cities represented include Vancouver, Surrey, B.C., Edmonton, Calgary, Regina, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Montreal, and the Ontario cities of Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton, London and Kitchener.

Story continues below advertisement

"Fentanyl is the leading cause of drug overdose death in one third of the Canadian cities represented by the task force, but there are huge challenges in collecting and accessing basic data, let alone ample and timely access to addictions treatment and care," said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, who chairs the group.

Only Vancouver and Surrey receive monthly overdose data from local health authorities, the task force said in a news release.

It said just six of the cities – Vancouver, Surrey, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Montreal – have access to the most recent information, from last year.

"We need a strong national response to fix this data problem and scale up an immediate increase in medical solutions to save lives," Robertson said.

"The glaring gaps in drug overdose data mask the seriousness of the fentanyl crisis and are a dangerous barrier to addressing the horrific overdose death toll impacting families across Canada."

Robertson also called for addiction treatment with medications, such as the painkiller hydromorphone or injectable heroin.

The Crosstown clinic in Vancouver is the only facility in North America to offer such treatment for people who have not succeeded in combating their addiction through other methods.

Story continues below advertisement

Task force members have met with the federal ministers of health and public safety to discuss the need for standardized data collection, the release said.

"We can't end this crisis without clear data on what's happening on the ground and involving cities is the solution," Robertson said.

Report an error
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

If your comment doesn't appear immediately it has been sent to a member of our moderation team for review

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading…

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.