International Overdose Awareness Day is held each year on August 31. The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) joins individuals and organizations worldwide to mark this important day, and encourage people to call 911 if they suspect an overdose.
According to a release, dated Monday, Aug. 31, 2020, observers of an overdose may hesitate to call 911 over fears of police involvement. The OPP is reminding citizens of the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act (GSDOA) and encouraging the public to seek life-saving assistance if they suspect an overdose is happening.
In 2019, the OPP created posters, information cards and community safety videos to help educate the public and community agencies, said the release. These resources as well as other additional information about the GSDOA can be found by visiting: www.opp.ca/overdose and OPP social media accounts.
The OPP said they are upholding their commitment to the Ontario Mobilization and Engagement Model of Community Policing and are using a collaborative approach to help disseminate this public awareness campaign. Numerous OPP detachments are partnering with other organizations in their community to help the OPP better connect with those directly impacted by this Act.
The GSDOA does provide protection against charges for:
- Possessing drugs for your own use
- Violating conditions of your parole, bail, probation or conditional sentence for a simple drug possession charge
The GSDOA does not provide protection against charges for:
- Trafficking illegal drugs
- Offences other than drug possession
- Any outstanding arrest warrants
- Violating conditions of your parole, bail, probation or conditional sentence for an offence that is not simple possession
Thousands of lives are claimed each year due to opiod overdoses across Ontario and Canada, said the OPP. The statistics and numbers below do not capture the profound distress being felt by those impacted.
Facts, as provided in the release:
- In 2019, 3,823 lives were lost in Canada due to opioid related overdoses
- In 2019, more than 21,000 suspected opioid-related overdoses occurred in Canada
- In the last three years there has been an 81% increase in suspected opioid occurrences in OPP jurisdiction alone
- Since September 2017, the OPP has saved 170 lives by administering naloxone to overdose victims
“The Ontario Provincial Police recognizes the importance of saving lives and has embedded the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act into our policies and procedures,” said OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique. “We encourage members of the public to educate their family and friends on why they should always call 911 if they suspect an overdose. By doing so, you could help save a life.”