30% of Ontario’s opioid overdose deaths were construction workers

Barrie 360 - June 1, 2021

An Ontario builders’ association says the alarming increase in opioid overdose deaths has impacted the construction industry more than any other sector. 

The Ontario Construction Consortium (OCC) has launched an awareness campaign after a report showed just how dramatic the increase in opioid overdose deaths has been in the province.

The report by the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network (ODPRN), found that 2,500 Ontarians died of drug overdoses in 2020, up from 1,500 in 2019.

That’s an increase of 60 per cent and from that, 30 per cent of victims were construction workers.

“This situation is alarming,” said OCC Phil Gillies. “The increase in addiction and mental health issues that has accompanied the pandemic is impacting the construction workforce in a dramatic and tragic fashion.”

The ODPRN linked the increase in overdose deaths to the shutdowns and isolation imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This crisis is very real in Canada,” sais Gillies. “I know of one worker, a 28-year-old man, who died over the May long weekend.”

OCC has launched a public information campaign to raise public awareness on this pandemic, , which Gillies hopes will urge construction workers to take steps to safeguard their health and safety.

The media campaign includes advertorials in the National Post and Toronto Sun, a public service announcement (psa) video and a radio commercial.