February 5, 2024
BRANTFORD, ON – The Brantford-Brant Community Drug Strategy has released its 2024 Action Plan, outlining its initiatives and strategies to address substance use and addiction within the community.
Canada’s overdose crisis persisted throughout 2023, with data from the first six months indicating a five percent increase in nationwide opioid overdose deaths compared to 2022. These rates remain significantly elevated from pre-pandemic levels, highlighting the ongoing severity of the crisis.
Findings from 2023
Opioid-related fatalities in Brantford-Brant remained similar in 2023 compared to 2022 and continue to be about 1.5 times the provincial average. Brantford-Brant’s rate of emergency department visits related to opioid overdose was also statistically the same between 2022 and 2023 and remains twice the provincial average.
Between August and November 2023, the Brantford-Brant Community Drugs Strategy (BBCDS) Coordinating Committee met to assess progress, and outline new 2024 initiatives, aligning with the original 38 recommendations initiated in the BBCDS (2016).
BBCDS made significant strides in 2023, working extensively on various fronts to address drug-related challenges. Efforts included enhancing the Drugs Strategy’s visibility through public presentations, implementing a communications plan and testing the distribution of fentanyl test strips to provide people who use drugs with vital information for safer consumption. This initiative broadened harm reduction supplies, introduced wound care kits, and scaled up programs such as PreVenture to prevent and mitigate substance use among youth.
Reducing stigma and advancing harm reduction remained central objectives. A dedicated focus on anti-stigma education, the pursuit of a Consumption & Treatment Services (CTS) site, and groundwork for universal screening for substance use disorders continued. Collaboration with various stakeholders, including youth-focused organizations and educational bodies, strengthened community engagement, with an emphasis on supporting existing allies and initiatives rather than duplicating efforts. Plans were also adjusted as required to adapt and respond to the evolving needs of the community.
2024 Action Plan
The 2024 Action Plan outlines a comprehensive approach to address various facets of substance use and related issues. Initiatives include continued work on universal screening for substance use disorders (SUD), further scaling up programs, such as PreVenture, launching a drug treatment court, and implementing sector-specific anti-stigma education to reduce biases against individuals using drugs. Efforts also focus on expanding support for families of people who use drugs, continued work toward opening a CTS site, and establishing stronger ties with Indigenous-led organizations to enhance services for Indigenous people using drugs.
Additionally, the plan emphasizes collaborating with mental health and addiction committees, assessing clinical pathways for withdrawal management, and fostering peer support communities. It aims to assess and address the needs of businesses and service providers in affected areas, support safer supply pilot evaluations, and expand access to harm reduction resources, drug checking services, and naloxone among seniors. The plan highlights the importance of inclusive planning by involving people with lived experiences of drug use in the development of future Action Plans and explores tailored resources for marginalized groups, such as 2S-LGBTQIA+ individuals who use drugs.
About the BBCDS
The Brantford-Brant Community Drugs Strategy is a multi-stakeholder community initiative made up of a partnership including public health agencies and municipal organizations including the Brant County Health Unit, St. Leonard’s Community Services, The AIDS Network, Brantford Police Services, Grand River Community Health Centre, Brantford Substance Users Network, Child and Family Services of the Grand Erie, Brant Community Healthcare System, the City of Brantford, the County of Brant and Woodview Mental Health and Autism Services.
“The Brantford-Brant Community Drugs Strategy remains committed to carrying out the immediate actions within the 2024 Action Plan. We are dedicated to regularly communicating our progress to the community, ensuring that our efforts are not only impactful but also well-understood and supported by those we serve.”
– Alyssa Stryker, Drugs Strategy Coordinator, Brant County Health Unit