A leadership committee has released a proposed opioid strategy consultation document for Windsor-Essex and is welcoming public input.

The Windsor-Essex Community Opioid Strategy Leadership Committee revealed their proposed strategy for public input on Wednesday.

The group introduced eight strategies and a set of potential interventions to address the rising rates of opioid overdose and death in Windsor-Essex.

The proposal, drafted by members of the leadership committee, is now open for input from the community.

The co-chairs stressed the importance of collecting feedback from those who are most impacted by the recent increase in emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths related to opioids.

“Feedback from people with lived experiences using opioids and other drugs, as well as their friends and families will ensure that the final strategy is realistic, appropriate, and tailored to the unique needs of Windsor and Essex County,” says Dr. Wajid Ahmed, acting medical officer of health for the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.

In order to do so, the committee is organizing two Community Consultation events, one at the downtown Windsor YMCA on Oct. 17 and one at the Leamington Kinsmen Recreation Complex on Oct. 18.

The events will feature local elected officials, Dr. Ahmed and Essex-Windsor EMS Chief Krauter Chief Bruce Krauter, as well as a guest speaker from the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council.

According to a report released earlier this year, the total rate of opioid users in Windsor-Essex is 18.9 per cent greater than the provincial average with the greatest density of opioid related emergency department visits coming from the downtown cores of Windsor and Leamington.

These increasing rates have been found in municipalities across the province and nation and have prompted action at all levels of government.

“We need to take a comprehensive approach to addressing the opioid misuse in our community,” says Krauter. “This proposal provides the foundation for much more work to be done to address the recent increase in opioid related harms.”

For those who are unable to attend the community consultations, a survey has been posted with a copy of the proposal document on the Health Unit’s website and hard copies will be made available at a number of community service organizations across the city and county.

Registration for the community forum is available on the Health Unit’s website at www.wechu.org or by contacting the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit at 519-258-2146 extension 3100.