Ontario group sounding the alarm about rising opioid overdose deaths in the construction industry

CTV - June 9, 2021

SAULT STE. MARIE — The group representing construction workers in Ontario is warning of a concerning trend of opioid-related deaths affecting the industry. 

The Ontario Construction Consortium said new data from the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network confirms its suspicion that construction workers are among a significant portion of opioid-related deaths.

“Of the people who died of overdose in 2020, that were employed at the time they died, almost one third were construction workers, 30 per cent,” said Phil Gillies. “It’s definitely more prevalent in this industry than any other.”

Gillies said in many cases, the nature of the industry can lead its workers down the path of addiction. With workplace injuries not uncommon, Gillies said simple prescription painkillers can often have profound effects down the line.

“Where the trouble really starts is when the doctor cuts off the prescriptions,” he said. “The addicted worker can’t get the pain killers anymore and that’s when they go to the street.”

Gillies said the organization’s partners have reached out to members and mayors across the province, including cities in northern Ontario.

“A user should either be going to a supervised consumption facility or at least be with someone who can administer Naloxone,” he said. “That’s what we’re advocating at this point, because we are losing lives.”

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