Hamilton, Ont., declares state of emergency over opioids, homelessness, mental health
Hamilton’s city council declared a state of emergency on Thursday over homelessness, opioid addiction and mental health issues in the city.
A motion approving the emergency call does not immediately compel the southern Ontario city to launch new programs to redress the widening crises.
But it will see Mayor Andrea Horwath ask the provincial government to act on recommendations from a local group of public health agencies.
Those include expanding services and harm reduction programs for people suffering from addiction, after a January report showed opioid-related deaths and overdoses in Hamilton had “increased exponentially.”
The report said there were 26 opioid-related deaths in 2005 compared to 166 in 2021, noting that over 65 per cent of them were among males between 25 and 65 years old.
Horwath will also call on the province to correct a funding model for homelessness, after a 2021 auditor general report found the province was not allocating enough resources to the issue.
Horwath will also request that the province and the CEO of Ontario Health “immediately” commit to fully funding gaps in mental health service, including annual increases based on inflation and population.
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