Health experts from across the country will meet in Ottawa today to work on a plan to curb the crisis of opioid-related overdose deaths.
The summit is hosted by federal Health Minister Jane Philpott and Ontario Health Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins.
Canada and the U.S. have the highest rates of opioid use in the world, and Philpott, a physician herself, has said the root causes must be examined.
She says the problem has worsened over the last several years as the number of overdoses and opioid-related deaths grows.
- Canada must examine why it tops opioid-consuming countries, Philpott says
- Killer drugs: N.L. death count rose to 20 last year; fentanyl a factor in 5 fatal overdoses
Opioids include prescription painkillers such as oxycodone, fentanyl and morphine, as well as illegal street drugs like heroin.
Part of the problem is that some opioids play a legitimate role in responding to people with pain conditions.
“People need to have access to these effective medications where used appropriately, but there is tremendous risk potential,” Philpott said earlier this year. “People do become addicted to them and people die.”