Annual Report 2018

Windsor-Essex Community Opioid and Substance Strategy: An Action Plan for Our Community

The Windsor-Essex Community Opioid and Substance Strategy (WECOSS): An Action Plan for Our Community (Action Plan) was created to formalize a clear set of overarching recommendations with associated short and long-term actions. This Action Plan includes a set of eight guiding recommendations to reduce the harms associated with opioid use and enhance the quality and range of services and supports for substance use issues across the region. Following the completion of the Action Plan, individual Working Groups representing each of the four pillars of the Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy (Health Canada, 2018) began to action the recommendations in January of 2018.


The Action Plan proposed a set of key recommendations, and includes corresponding short and long-term actions. Further detail about the suggested actions associated with each recommendation can be found in the Action Plan Strategy document

Recommendation ONE: Support peer engagement and meaningful involvement of people with lived experience as a critical feature for building local capacity.

Recommendation TWO: Support healthcare providers to play a key role, through appropriate prescribing practices, patient education about opioids and overdose prevention, and other pain management options.

Recommendation THREE:  Provide early education and prevention about opioids and other substance use.

Recommendation FOUR: Develop a local overdose monitoring and response system.

Recommendation FIVE: Increase access to a variety of harm reduction options, such as non- abstinence based programs that accept clients using opioid substitution therapies, safer drug use equipment, and mobile outreach activities, for people who use opioids and those affected by people who use opioids.

Recommendation SIX: Address stigma associated with problematic substance use through the development of supportive polices and education of healthcare professionals, community organizations and the public.

Recommendation SEVEN: Work with provincial partners to advocate for increased funding to expand the capacity of the local substance use treatment system.

Recommendation EIGHT: Redefine the role for enforcement agencies and other first responders to build “public safety-public health” partnerships for a safer and healthier community.


The WECOSS-Leadership Committee serves as the backbone of the overall strategy through its support of the vision, direction, and advancement of key advocacy activities, while the four pillar-based working groups have been tasked with implementing the strategies outlined in the Action Plan:

  • Prevention and Education
    Preventing or delaying substance use and prevent problematic substance use. Projects or activities focus on reducing the factors that increase the risk of developing substance use issues and increase protective factors, including promoting healthy families and education and awareness initiatives.
  • Harm Reduction
    Reducing the health, social, and economic harms associated with substance use by respecting the rights of those who use substances, and increasing awareness regarding lower risk use. Harm reduction approaches reduce the spread of communicable diseases, prevent overdose harms and deaths, increase contact with healthcare providers, and reduce consumption of illicit substances in unsafe settings.
  • Treatment and Recovery
    Improving the physical and emotional well-being of people who use substances or have used substances. These include a continuum of services and interventions, such as counselling, residential programs, and community-based withdrawal programs.
  • Enforcement and Justice
    Strengthening community safety by responding to crime and disorder in the community related to substance use and increasing coordination between law enforcement and health services.
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