An Ontario city is declaring a state of emergency following an incident that saw more than a dozen overdoses reported in an hour in the city's downtown core. On Thursday morning, Belleville city officials said they had recorded 23 overdoses since 2 p.m. on Tuesday.
Speaking to CTV News, Mayor Neil Ellis said the city's declaration of an emergency is an effort to release more funding from federal and provincial coffers.
"We can't afford to fix it ourselves," the mayor told CTV. "It's a medical crisis and a health crisis. And resources from the province and the feds have got to go toward trying to solve this."
Rebel News' Tamara Ugolini, while examining the harmful effects of Canada's 'safer supply' drug programs, noted how the problem isn't new. Earlier in February, the city of 55,000 saw a handful of overdose reports during a four-hour period.
On Tuesday, police shut down part of the downtown core during the "overdose emergency." Thankfully, no fatalities were reported.
"It's too early for this particular event to know exactly what might be in the drug supply, what would it be having these particular effects, but this is part of an overall trend that is severely affecting the community," said Dr. Ethan Toumishey, medical officer of health for the region, as reported by CBC.
Mayor Ellis, a Liberal MP from 2015 to 2021, told the state broadcaster the city lacked "any capital or any facilities" to address the issue. A spokesperson for Ontario's government told CBC that Belleville receives $35 million in funding for local mental health and addiction organizations, in addition to $2 million for linking health workers and police on distress calls.
"The best case is housing first and wraparound services," Ellis told CTV. "It's not going to cure everybody but that's the gold standard."