TORONTO — Today, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, issued the following statement on International Overdose Awareness Day:

“Every year, more than one million Ontarians experience mental health or addiction challenges, and we know the COVID-19 pandemic has created new and more complex obstacles than we have ever seen before. People of all ages are experiencing higher levels of anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, eating disorders, and we have especially seen an increase of substance use and a significant increase in overdoses. Today, we are joining organizations around the world in recognizing International Overdose Awareness Day — a day to raise awareness of substance use disorders and break down the stigma around drug use, addiction and drug-related death.

We all need to remember that anyone, both young and old, can be affected by substance use. They could be our parents, our children, our neighbours, our co-workers and our friends. Today is an opportunity for Ontarians to acknowledge the grief felt by those who are mourning loved ones, provide support and encouragement to one another, raise awareness, and to learn about the available resources to educate people who use drugs and to prevent overdose.

Every Ontarian deserves to be fully supported in their journey from prevention to recovery. Our government has been laser-focused on enhancing access to evidence-based, high-quality addictions services and ensuring the availability of needed supports across the continuum of care. This includes an additional $32.7 million in ongoing annual funding that we announced in July for targeted addictions services and supports, including treatment for opioid addictions. If you feel you or a loved one is struggling with a mental health challenge, substance use problem, or may be at risk of an overdose, please visit this website to find a list of free, confidential mental health and addictions supports that meet your unique needs and will help you during your recovery journey.

Today, more than ever, we encourage every Ontarian to join us in recognizing International Overdose Awareness Day. There are many ways to show your support to those experiencing the grief of losing someone to an overdose. Help us by starting the conversation, sharing your experiences, and spreading the word on social media. Use the hashtag #IOAD2021 and/or #EndOverdose throughout the day, and let’s end the stigma around addictions and recovery. Together, we can help save lives and truly make a difference.”