Put Health and the Environment First!
By Peter D'Gama
End the Opioid Crisis
Annual number of deaths from opioid-related causes, Toronto, 2013 to 2017*
Too many Torontonians have died as a result of opioid addiction. In 2017 there were 303 deaths related to opioid addiction. Drug addiction is a complex issue involving many systemic factors related to economic inequality, poverty, homelessness, racism, settler colonization. To address this crisis we need to veer from an approach of criminalization towards one that focuses on harm reduction. This involves funding harm reduction sites and keeping them open and making naloxone kits available to those prone to suffering from an overdose.
I will fight fiercely for measures to alter drug laws so that an approach based on the Portugal model is adopted. This adoption of harm reduction, public investment in treatment and prevention centres and decriminalization of minor offenses can make a significant effect in reducing drug addiction and deaths that result from it.
The over policing and criminalization of marginalized communities has a negative effect on public health and other issues commonly calling for greater militarization of police. The spate of gun violence in Toronto has spawned an overreaction, while understandable does not see the underlying causes and social determinants of crime culture. I will fight for the de-escalation of this militarized approach and call for immediately reducing the police budget by $100 million dollars to go back to the level of funding the Police Services received in 2008 and conduct a review on what a future role and spending on Police Services. The savings from such a review should then be allocated to a fund for fighting the opioid crisis and homelessness in the City.
I want to end the transmission of highly flammable substances, including by train or pipeline, through the city and put a stop to Line 9. Step up health and safety inspections and bylaw enforcement at rooming houses, nursing homes, swimming pools, spas and restaurants. Cut pollution and waste by rapid conversion to green energy generation as an alternative to burning carbon fuels.
I would also license more food trucks on the streets to offer consumers healthy, affordable and diverse local alternatives to restaurant dining. I think we must add a free school lunches based in what we have learned about nutrition over the last several decades and remove all surgery drink machines from our public institutions.
Cars and trucks are the primary local source of the contaminants filling the lungs of residents. In fact, pollution from vehicles on Toronto's routinely jammed streets and expressways contributes to about 280 premature deaths and 1,090 hospitalizations each year, underscoring the need to find healthier travel alternatives, including free public transit. In addition, the harm done by trucks can be reduced by requiring off-peak deliveries so that big rigs spend less time in gridlocked traffic. Adding a car entry fee to raise even more clean air funds in the fashion that London, England has applied to their traffic issues I support completely.
I say 'No jets, no extension of the Island airport runway.' Preserve and expand parks and recreation facilities. Demand that the federal government give Downsview Park to the City of Toronto instead of allowing Canada Lands Co. to toy with the idea of selling portions of the park for commercial purposes. Make it a priority to service and enhance the city's tree canopy both to minimize the potential for storm damage and to improve air quality.