Ottawa Valley collaboration tackles opioid crisis

This month a new collaboration has been launched by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Upper Ottawa Valley Detachment and the County of Renfrew Paramedic Service. Residents will see joint foot patrols in downtown Pembroke — OPP members teaming up with paramedics and partners from the Renfrew County mesa program to increase outreach in the downtown area, with a particular focus on those who may be at greater risk. The Renfrew Detachment’s Mobile Crisis Response Team (MCRT) and Provincial Liaison Team (PLT) are providing initial support to maximize the efforts. Photo: OPP Upper Ottawa Valley Detachment

The focus, when dealing with at-risk individuals, will be on education, drug safety and referrals. The teams will also be providing safety kits. Regular readers will doubtless have noted an increase in the number and frequency of police and health unit bulletins relating to opioids and suspicions about unknown components in illegal drugs.

Going to the root of the problem with mesa

This partnership aligns with the County of Renfrew’s mesa program – a three-pronged approach to compassionate care in the community dealing with the root causes of homelessness, substance abuse, and addictions and mental health. Multiple partners across the County are involved, and the mesa Report highlights the extent of the need for collaboration between them. As just one example, the statistics for suspected drug poisoning and overdose cases in Renfrew County have risen alarmingly since pre-pandemic times and continue to rise. For example, the 41 deaths due to suspected drug poisoning in 2023 were double those during 2022.

Learn more on the County of Renfrew website at: A recent media release from County indicates that an announcement relating to housing is imminent.

Partners’ comments

The mesa Report identifies County of Renfrew’s Community Services, Paramedic Services and Development and Property Department working with 17 multi-sector collaborators including healthcare organizations and municipalities to endeavour to provide mental health, addiction and substance use programs, housing services, emergency and warming centre services. This latest program combining front line paramedicine with community policing in downtown Pembroke is welcomed by participants.

“This initiative, with our emergency services partners, Renfrew County and District Health Unit and others will enhance our community engagement, particularly with those who may be at greater risk than others to the dangers posed by opioids. This ties in with the Upper Ottawa Valley’s safety and well-being plan and our strategic plan,” said Inspector Steph Neufeld.

“The County of Renfrew Paramedic Service and mesa staff are very happy to partner with the OPP to increase our availability to people experiencing challenges related mental health, addictions and homelessness. Our combined efforts support well-being and safety throughout our communities,” commented Chief Michael Nolan, County of Renfrew Paramedic Service.

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