Media Release – May 23, 2024


Urgent Action Needed to Address Substance Abuse and Overdose Crisis

Ontario Chamber Policy Brief Highlights Impact on Business, Need for Strategic Interventions


(Toronto – May 23, 2024) – Ontario faces an alarming projection: over 3,000 annual drug poisoning deaths for the fifth consecutive year, translating to more than eight fatalities daily. As they find themselves near the frontlines of a substance use and overdose crisis, businesses are issuing urgent calls for action, emphasizing the need for strategic interventions in Ontario communities.

Today, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) released Beyond Emergency Declarations: Charting Ontario’s Course Through the Substance Use and Overdose Crisis. This policy brief aims to simplify the complex narrative surrounding substance use, bridge the knowledge gap between stakeholders, and underscore the need for evidence-based, community-informed solutions that prioritize public health principles, prevent mortality, and improve recovery outcomes.

“Here in the Upper Ottawa Valley, we are grappling with an escalating substance abuse and opioid crisis that we are ill-equipped to manage. Local businesses are struggling with rising security costs and decreasing customer traffic,” said Kelly Hollihan, executive director at the Upper Ottawa Valley Chamber of Commerce.  “This brief calls upon the decision-makers to think outside the silos of any one particular addictions management approach and urges the collection of better data to drive evidence-based solutions.”

Driven by stigma within healthcare settings, obstacles to treatment, declining mental health, and the escalating toxicity of the drug supply, the crisis disproportionately affects northern, remote, and rural communities, which grapple with limited access to support services and much higher overdose rates. Strategies across Canada vary, from harm reduction efforts in B.C. to recovery-focused models in Alberta to Ontario’s focus on creating a continuum of care. Comparing these strategies – and their outcomes – will be essential, the OCC brief finds.

The OCC thanks its lead partner, Indivior, and its supporting partner, the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario, for supporting this work.


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About Upper Ottawa Valley Chamber of Commerce

The voice of the business community in the Upper Ottawa Valley, the Chamber of Commerce is an association of businesses and business leaders across much of Renfrew County from Arnprior, to Whitewater Region, Pembroke and Petawawa, Madawaska and Bonnechere to Deep River and beyond. As a Board of Trade, the Chamber advocates on behalf of its members, provides education and development resources, creates networking and marketing opportunities, and works with strategic partners toward the region’s economic well-being. The Chamber is a Board of Trade in a network of thousands across the country, providing the benefits and discount programs that membership with the Ontario and Canadian Chambers of Commerce brings.

About the Ontario Chamber of Commerce
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) is the indispensable partner of business and Canada’s largest, most influential provincial chamber. It is an independent, non-profit advocacy and member services organization representing a diverse network of 60,000 members. The OCC’s mission is to convene, align and advance the interests of its members through principled policy work, value-added business services and broad engagement to drive competitiveness and inclusive, sustainable economic growth in the province.