Wynne agrees to Watson request for $2.5M for Ottawa opioid strategy

Ottawa's mayor used a Monday morning meeting with Ontario's premier to ask for $2.5 million to support a local plan to deal with opioid addiction and overdoses.

Jim Watson said the $2.5 million amount was an estimate provided by Ottawa Public Health for what the agency would need to create more detox and treatment spaces, as well as to provide police and firefighters with naloxone kits so they can provide the life-saving antidote.

Ottawa Public Health said the community has also asked for more help to educate and prevent opioid misuse, including in schools.

"We're prepared to work to make sure Ottawa has those resources," said Premier Kathleen Wynne.

Wynne also suggested mayors from Ontario municipalities, both large and small, meet to discuss their local plans, and whether there are any gaps between those and Ontario's strategy to deal with the opioid crisis. 

On Feb. 24, Watson and other mayors held a conference call with federal health and public safety ministers Jane Philpott and Ralph Goodale during which they called for a coordinated response to deal with opioid overdoses.

"We also need a provincial-municipal strategy," said Watson on Monday at Queen's Park, where he thanked the premier for calling for a meeting of Ontario municipalities.

In a statement, Ottawa Public Health said it's "encouraged by the news that the province intends to fund local efforts to deal with the emerging opioid crisis in our city."

​Mayor at Queen's Park to push Kanata's high-tech scene

The mayor and premier made the comments during a news conference held at the outset of a day full of meetings for the mayor, 25 high-tech and post-secondary executives, city councillors and others.

Watson and serial entrepreneur Terry Matthews led the group on the trip to Queen's Park for meetings with several provincial ministers.

Their goal was to push Kanata's technology scene, especially its work on autonomous vehicles and next-generation 5G technology.

The City of Ottawa says this summer, a test track for autonomous vehicles will launch in Kanata — the first on an active city street. City traffic systems and street lighting will be coordinated with GPS and other technology in that test area, according to the city.

Executives from IBM, Blackberry, QNX and aerospace company Neptec were part of the delegation, which also included the heads of the University of Ottawa, Algonquin College, Invest Ottawa and other groups.