TORONTO, ON – In the absence of government leadership CUPE Ontario has rented a large winterized trailer to ensure the volunteers working to save lives at the Moss Park overdose prevention site can continue to do their important work.

“Our government needs to do more than track and talk about the opioid crisis. People are dying and that requires action, “says Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario. “Thanks to the volunteers in Moss Park they’ve saved 106 people from dying of an overdose. Their work must continue and that is why we stepped up to provide a safe space for the winter.”

CUPE Ontario agreed to pay for the trailer after a tent provided by the provincial government did not meet fire regulation.

“When dealing with a health crisis, all levels of government should come together to immediately coordinate and implement an effective emergency response, “says Candace Rennick, Secretary-Treasurer of CUPE Ontario. “We’re pleased we’ve been able to step up to fill this one critical gap, but volunteer health provision should never be the answer to an ongoing medical crisis.”

Every day, since August 12, 2017, a collective of over 170 volunteers have set-up and taken down tents in Moss Park. In the first 100 days, Toronto Overdose Prevention Society (TOPS) witnessed 2,611 injections and has stopped or reversed 106 drug poisonings/overdoses.

With winter setting in, freezing temperatures bring an additional risk of death. The new trailer allows TOPS to safely continue their life-saving work in the rapidly dropping temperatures.

“We are calling on all levels of government to step up and provide the resources that are necessary to stop the plague of opioid addiction in its tracks,” says Hahn. “It’s time they stop dancing around the subject and act.”

CUPE is Ontario’s community union, with more than 260,000 members providing quality public services we all rely on, in every part of the province, every day. CUPE Ontario members are proud to work in social services, health care, municipalities, school boards, universities and airlines.

For more information, contact: Sarah Jordison, CUPE Communications, 416-578-5638