West Nipissing candidates act on opioid epidemic

·2 min read

Two West Nipissing candidates want to take action on the opioid epidemic once elected by forming a drug and addiction strategy committee. Réjean Venne is a candidate for the Ward 1 (Sturgeon Falls) council seat, and Dave Lewington is running for mayor in this Fall’s election.

This morning, the two sent an email to BayToday outlining their vision for this newly formed committee and provided their rational as to why such a group would be beneficial to the community.

They noted the “opioid epidemic that started before the COVID pandemic has worsened substantially over the last two years,” and the devastating effects of the epidemic have hit the region hard. In 2020, the region reported 51 opioid-related deaths, up from 2019, when 19 were recorded, Venne and Lewington outlined in their release.

See: Third candidate enters West Nipissing mayoral race

The candidates also noted that “this opioid and mental health crisis disproportionally affects small northern communities such as West Nipissing.” They cited a recent survey from Oracepoll that found that drugs and addictions was “one of the top issues on residents’ minds ahead of the municipal election.”

Lewington and Venne, concerned with this pressing health issue, have decided to create the Municipal Drug & Addiction Strategy Committee in West Nipissing if elected. For although there are provincial bodies and a health unit “offering services and resources to address the problem,” the candidates “believe the crisis requires further actions.”

So, they want to bring the issue to Town Hall by creating a committee of council. It would be a new committee, freshly minted, and as envisioned, would have representatives from the West Nipissing General Hospital, the North Bay and Parry Sound District Health Unit, and the Nipissing West OPP detachment.

See: Réjean Venne running to represent Ward 1 in West Nipissing

The two also envision members of Nipissing First Nation on the committee, as well as representatives from the District of Nipissing Social Services Administration Board. Members of West Nipissing council will also be involved, as will members of the community.

“We want to see our city explore what it can do to address the problem on a local level,” Venne and Lewington explained, and this committee will discuss strategies to address “the drug and addictions problems in our community and make recommendation to the municipal council.”

“Let’s work together to make our community stronger.”

David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca