Getting to Tomorrow: Ending the Overdose Crisis, is a national initiative to explore health and social approaches to this crisis that, if implemented, could help dramatically reduce the number of people dying as a result of an extremely toxic illegal drug market in Canada. It is a crisis that affects every community, every neighbourhood, and every citizen — a complex and multifaceted public health emergency with broad-reaching impacts.
Between 2016 and December of 2019, 15,393 Canadians have died from opioid-related causes 1.Even prior to the COVID-19 public health crisis, as a result of the toxic drug supply between 2016 and 2017, life expectancy in Canada failed to increase for the first time in over four decades. COVID-19 has highlighted how our health care system has struggled to help people who use drugs. The onset of COVID-19 has exacerbated the crisis as illegal drug markets have been disrupted and are more dangerous than ever, and new barriers are in place for accessing health care services. Deaths from drug toxicity are increasing as a result. Clearly, the current approach to the overdose crisis is failing us all.
The title of this dialogue series, Getting to Tomorrow, acknowledges that for many who access drugs through the illegal market, just making it to the next day is a daunting task. Thousands of families across this country are grieving the loss of a loved one as a result of accidental poisoning. It also acknowledges that today’s policies aren’t working, and tomorrow’s policies need to be better in order to protect everyone.