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- Local Residents Urged to Give Input on New Drug Strategy to Tackle Substance Use in Area -

Wanted: your ideas and input to help tackle and reduce the harm associated with drug and alcohol use in the area.

For the next eight weeks – through May 15, 2017 – area residents are being asked to complete a short online survey looking at substance use in Haliburton County, the City of Kawartha Lakes and Northumberland County. The HKPR Drug Strategy survey asks people their input on harms associated with drug and alcohol use in the community, and what the priorities should be to help address those issues.

The survey is the first step in the development of a new regional drug strategy for the three-county area. The local drug strategy will focus on four main areas: drug use prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and justice/enforcement. Nearly 50 organizations are involved in the drug strategy, including police services, fire departments, EMS personnel, Health Unit staff, PARN, treatment services, pharmacists, Family Health Teams, youth and social service agencies, mental health groups, and other non-profit groups.

“The regional drug strategy is like a blueprint to reduce harms associated with alcohol, drugs and the misuse of prescription medications,” says Charles Shamess, the new Drug Strategy Coordinator for the area. “Public input is crucial to create an effective, coordinated drug strategy for our region that leads to a safer, healthier community for everyone.”

Regional drug strategies are common across Ontario, and tailored to each community based on public input, Shamess adds. While asking for new ideas, the local drug strategy will also build on existing initiatives to address some of the harms associated with substance use, including the Naloxone Distribution and the Needle Exchange programs. Locally, the regional drug strategy for Haliburton, Kawartha Lakes and Northumberland is being funded through a $285,000 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

Area residents are encouraged to take part in the online survey, says Marg Cox, Executive Director of the Point in Time Centre for Children, Youth and Parents in Haliburton County. “With the rising level of poverty, mental health needs, stigma and lack of transportation in our area, there are significant obstacles for our community members to effectively access services that may be required,” Cox says. “By completing this survey, residents will help us better understand the needs and potential challenges for improving access to harm reduction and addiction services.”

Sergeant Terry Cox, of the Kawartha Lakes Police Services, echoes the point. "For years now, individual community groups -- including our local police services -- have been initiating programs and strategies to reduce the harm associated with drug and alcohol abuse," Sgt. Cox says. "The ability to work collaboratively through this drug strategy will strengthen both our resolve and our ability to keep our community safe. I invite you to join us by sharing your experiences and opinions through this community survey. Your input will help structure this strategy to ensure its effectiveness."

Local Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Lynn Noseworthy, of the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit, agrees.“We value the feedback of our residents and community partners,” Dr. Noseworthy says. “Public input is essential to create an effective drug strategy that ensures a coordinated effort and consistent approach to address substance use issues in the area.”

For media inquiries, contact:

Charles Shamess, Coordinator, Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge Regional Drug Strategy, (705) 875-8728,

or Marg Cox, Executive Director, A Point in Time, (705) 457-5345, ext. 310,

or Sergeant Terry Cox, Kawartha Lakes Police Services, (705) 324-6307, ext. 515,

or Shawn Woods, Manager, Communicable Disease Control, HKPR District Health Unit, (905) 885-9100.

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«January 2019»