VANKUUR – One day after one of his closest friends died alone in his bedroom from overdose with opioids, Brandon Bailey began to share the number of his mobile phones through social media.
The recovered drug addict from Windsor, Ontning, has a message for other users: If you want to use it, call me.
"I will come to you and make sure you are safe," Bailey writes in the Facebook Post.
Bailey, who is also a member of the Windsor Overdose Prevention Society, said he was frustrated by the lack of overdose prevention services, such as safe places to consume in the city, and he wants to ensure that naloxone at an overdose can to reach any person at risk.
From his November post on Facebook, he also distributed his number of mobile phones to flyers.
"We need to do something," he said.
The overdose crisis has devastated communities across the country and is counted as slowing the progress of life expectancy, which has grown for three years between 2000 and 2016.
Opioids killed about 9,000 people between January 2016 and June 2018, according to the Canadian Public Health Agency. About 94 per cent of these deaths were accidental, and nearly three quarters were involved in powerful opioid fentanyl.
But access to overdose overdose varies geographically, and some advocates say that the person's chance of surviving overdose depends on where you live.
There are eight approved supervised locations for consumption in British Columbia, nine in Ontario, six in Alberta, four in Quebec and nowhere else, according to Health Canada.
Supervised places of consumption allow people to use their medicines under medical supervision, many of which provide fentanyl contamination testing and access to sterile equipment.
Naloxone is now available for purchase in pharmacies in each province and territory, except Alberta, Yukon and Nunavut, the Canadian Pharmaceuticals Association said.
Access to free Naloxone-Named Influences is more diverse, with Quebec Nuclear Spray to anyone over 14 through pharmacies, New Brunswick giving Naloxone elsewhere such as health and social services and British Columbia offering free access to people at risk of overdose, those which can be witnessed by overdosage and the First Nations.
Jordan Westfall, executive director for the Canadian Association of People Using Drugs, said rural and remote areas were particularly unsuitable.
"There are large parts of the country that do not have these services at all. These are lifelines for people at risk of overdose that are not available to people," Westfall said.
The lack of education and political will were the biggest challenges for preventing overdose deaths, he said. Unlike other data-based healthcare decisions, the issue of allowing services as supervised locations for consumption is often put before the public, he said.
"In many cases, we put human lives in public consultation. It is a kind of metaphor of how we treat the health care of people who use drugs that is stigmatized in society," Westhol said.
He said harm reduction could go further by providing a safe drug supply for beneficiaries, given that many deaths occur in relation to fentanyl-contaminated drugs.
"Everybody else in the country, when they take a drink, do not have to worry about going dead. We need to have the same security for everyone in the country, using drugs on the streets," he said.
The Eastside Center in Vancouver is at the heart of the overdose crisis in British Columbia, and there are also some of the most affordable harm reduction services.
Last month, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart announced that he would direct staff to look for a place where drug users can get safe opioids to prevent overdose.
Sarah Blyth, co-founder of the Vancouver Prevention Prevention Society, said that the supervised sites of consumption and naloxone save lives every day.
On the day of the interview, she said three people had already been overdone in a safe place for injection at the place of residence, but they survived because they were surrounded by people who understood the use of drugs and the prevention of overdose.
However, Rebecca Jesemann, policy director for the Canadian Center for the Use and Addiction of Substances, said there are some good reasons for variation in the available services: the dominant drug problems also vary geographically.
The opioid crisis is more pronounced in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec, she said, while the central provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan are more concerned about the fight against the methamphetamine problem.
"Part of the reasons for the different levels of response is the fact that the problem is different in Canada, so we have to respond in a way that is specific to the local context," she said.
Health Canada said in a statement that the federal government is funding funding based on the severity of the opioid crisis and the size of the population in each province or territory.
Jesseman said mobile units have begun to provide support to places with no permanent overdose prevention services, she said.
But beyond geographical variations, she says that services often do not meet the needs of the individual, especially as they relate to language, gender, age and culture.
"The system often sees people in need of treatment as resistant to treatment, rather than looking at what's right with the system and how we can meet their needs," Jesemann said.
"We would not accept this variation in the quality and availability of health services like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, so why is this a norm for the use of substances?"