Printer friendly version
Type of submission: Oral
Conference track: Advocacy
Topics: Community Mobilisation and Organising
Presenting author: Alexandra de Kiewit
Jordan Westfall, Alexandra de Kiewit
Issue: People who use drugs are mobilizing and organizing across Canada to be at the heart of the response to the opioid overdose crisis.
Setting: Canada is in the midst of an opioid overdose epidemic. One province (British Columbia) has declared a public health emergency.
Argument: Policy that does not meaningfully include people who use drugs in decision making on issues that affect them leads to negative health and social outcomes, such as increased overdose deaths and HIV and hepatitis C rates. Many decision makers and service providers are unsure of how to meaningfully include people with lived experience in policy decision-making. In Canada, harm reduction services fall under the mandate of provincial governments. As a result, harm reduction services vary across provinces. People who use drugs encounter barriers in accessing healthcare and social services.
Organizing and mobilizing people who use drugs across a country as geographically large as Canada is challenging. Over the years, local organizations of people who use drugs have emerged though working collaboratively across the country to align policy and advocacy efforts requires capacity and resources. The Canadian Association of People who Use Drugs has been developing to achieve these goals.
Outcomes and Implications: We have created a document called Peerology: A guide by and for people on how to get involved that includes tips for service providers to meaningfully include people with lived experience throughout the policymaking process. We hosted a national meeting where a list of issues facing people who use drugs was compiled and guides our work plan. We engaged with policymakers at both the regional and nationwide levels at meetings and conferences, as well as the general population through social media. In collaboration with other NGOs, we released our Five Point Plan for Reducing Overdose Deaths on International Overdose Awareness day.