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Belleville Declares State of Emergency over Ongoing Addiction Crisis

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Belleville Declares State Of Emergency Over Ongoing Addiction Crisis

The city of Belleville, Ontario has declared a state of emergency following a surge in drug overdoses. Over a span of 24 hours, emergency crews responded to 17 overdoses, with 14 occurring within a two-hour time frame on Tuesday afternoon. Although no fatalities were reported, the incidents have highlighted the severity of the ongoing addictions and mental-health crisis in the municipality.

The overdoses took place near Bridge Street United Church, which houses a drop-in center run by the John Howard Society of Belleville, offering support services for homeless and vulnerable individuals. Witnesses described the situation as chaotic, with ambulances rushing victims to the hospital.

J.J. Cormier, the executive director of the John Howard Society of Belleville, expressed concern for the affected individuals, stating, ‘These people are… our family, and we’re their family.’ The incidents have had a significant impact on the community, leaving residents and support workers devastated.

Health officials have yet to confirm the specific cause of the sudden increase in overdoses, acknowledging that Belleville is part of a larger trend affecting communities across the province. Dr. Ethan Toumishey, the medical officer of health for Hastings Prince Edward Public Health, emphasized the need for comprehensive action, stressing that the crisis extends beyond Belleville and requires support from senior levels of government.

Belleville Mayor Neil Ellis echoed this sentiment, asserting that the city needs to be part of a broader plan that focuses on harm reduction and rehabilitation. Ellis called for support and guidance from the provincial and federal governments in dealing with the crisis, emphasizing the strain it has placed on emergency services, healthcare, and municipal resources.

The Ontario Minister of Health, Sylvia Jones, pointed to the government’s investments in mental health and addiction organizations, including nearly $35 million dedicated to Belleville. The province has also allocated funds for mobile crisis rapid response in the area, as part of its efforts to address addiction treatment services and supports.

Rachel Adams

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