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As opioid epidemic rages, Canadians seek extreme measures to save lives

With the number of opioid related deaths in this country expected to surpass 4,000 in 2018, Canadians continue to search for answers – and consider more extreme measures – to address what half call a serious problem (46%) and one-quarter (24%) view as a crisis.

The latest public opinion survey from the Angus Reid Institute finds more than eight-in-ten Canadians (85%) say they would support mandatory treatment for anyone dealing with an opioid addiction. Further, half (48%) are willing to explore the decriminalization of all drugs in Canada. Public health officials in Vancouver and Toronto have recently proposed such a change in order to reduce fentanyl related overdose deaths.

But three years into a state of emergency in British Columbia, and despite $230 million in new funding to fight the opioid epidemic from the federal government, many say neither Ottawa (45%), nor their own provinces (43%) have done enough, and continue to call for more resources allocated to the epidemic.

Meantime, the prevalence of this issue continues to grow, hitting closer to home for many Canadians. The percentage who now say this is a serious problem or crisis within their own communities has risen eight points in the 14 months since the Angus Reid Institute last asked – from one-third (33%) to 41 per cent.

More Key Findings:

  • One-in-five Canadians (17%) say they have a close friend or family member who has dealt with opioid addiction or dependence, while seven per cent say someone close to them has experienced an opiate-related overdose
  • Concern within ones own community has risen in every region of the country since November 2017. The largest increases in concern are in Manitoba (+18 points) and Alberta (+13 points), though concern remains highest in British Columbia overall at 52 per cent
  • Two-thirds of Canadians (66%) and at least six-in-ten across all age demographics say they support supervised-injection sites as a means to address opioid related deaths

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