"One person dies every 13 hours here in Ontario."
Drug users and their allies marched through Toronto February 21 demanding immediate action from all levels of government to stop more preventable overdose deaths.
The protest was part of the National Day of Action on the Overdose Crisis—They Talk, We Die. Similar actions were in Vancouver, Victoria, Edmonton, Montreal, Halifax, Nanaimo, and Ottawa. In Toronto, about 200 gathered at Bay and Wellesley, then marched to a memorial at Queen’s Park.
“Canada is in the midst of the worst overdose crisis in our history,” Zoë Dodd, Toronto march organizer and harm reduction worker, states in the news release.
“Thousands of people have died preventable deaths and yet rather than take meaningful actions to prevent further harm to people who use drugs, our government has instead pushed forward with its war on drugs, other harmful drug policies and a tentative approach to this crisis. We will not let this continue to happen.”
“One person dies every 13 hours here in Ontario,” Dodd tells the CBC. “Hundreds of people have died in this city. And we’re tired of it. We have lost so many of our friends, people we work with, people we know, our family members. So we are gathering here to demand action.”
Organizers have the following demands:
- Decriminalize drug possession;
- Grant immediate exemptions to all organizations that want to run supervised drug injection sites;
- Increase funding for harm reduction resources and services;
- Expand access to opioid substitution therapy, which involves supplying drug users with a replacement drug as part of treatment for addiction.