The Waterloo Region Integrated Drugs Strategy (WRIDS) Steering Committee is made up of a passionate and dedicated group of individuals whose work spans the four pillars of Prevention, Harm Reduction, Recovery and Rehabilitation, and Enforcement and Justice.

Since 2012, the Steering Committee has been working to address issues of substance use and addiction, including overdose. At the core of the Steering Committees work is the understanding that problematic substance use is a complex community issue requiring comprehensive social determinants of health solutions, partnerships across multiple sectors, integrating of services and the involvement of people directly impacted by substance use and their communities.

The Steering Committee's work is supported by a Coordinator who provides support for the coordinating committees and work groups of the four pillars, develops and maintains partnerships and acts as a champion for the vision of the WRIDS.

Meet the Steering Committee Members

Michael Parkinson 

Michael Parkinson works in community development with the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council.


Eugene Fenton 

Eugene Fenton is a Superintendent with the Waterloo Regional Police Service. He started his policing career in 2001 and has worked in Patrol, Detectives, Homicide, I.T., Intelligence, Professional Development and is now the Inspector overseeing the Intelligence Services Branch of the police service which includes the Drugs and Firearms Unit.



Grace Bermingham

Grace Bermingham is the Manager of Harm Reduction for the Region of Waterloo Public Health. She is co-chair of the WRIDS Harm Reduction Coordinating Committee and also chairs the Supervised Consumption Services Feasibility Study Work Group and the Harm Reduction Disposal Work Group.

Picture Grace Bermingham

Jonathan Mall

Jonathan Mall is the Chair of the WRIDS Prevention Coordinating Committee. He started working in Public Health in 2000 as a Health Promoter and has been a manager since 2006. Currently, he is managing the Youth and Young Adult Health team in the Healthy Living Division at the Region of Waterloo Public Health. In this role, the topics that he is responsible for include; cannabis, tobacco, vaping and alcohol prevention, preconception health and positive parenting.

picture of Jonathan Mall

Joanna Han

Joanna is Coordinator of the Waterloo Region Integrated Drugs Strategy and joined the Steering Committee in March 2020. She brings experience in harm reduction, injury prevention, and mental health. Joanna is co-chair of the Overdose Monitoring and Alert and Response System (OMARS). In her role she loves working with the various community partners on addiction and substance use. 


Marian Best

Marian provides addiction programming at Family Counselling of Cambridge and North Dumfries. Marian is a long time resident of Cambridge and is passionate about providing support to people living with addiction. Marian is the co-chair of the Recovery and Rehabilitation Coordinating Committee. 

Picture of Marian Best

Tara Groves-Taylor

Tara Groves is the new chair of the Recovery and Rehabilitation Pillar and the Addiction Services Director at House of Friendship.


Aleah Wagner

Aleah Wagner is the Manager of the IMPACT and Mental Health and Justice Team at the Canadian Mental Health Association, Waterloo Wellington. She is an experienced Mental Health Clinician with over 10 years progressive experience managing care of children, adolescents, adults and families with complex needs in community mental health/addictions care settings. She has recently joined the WRIDS, and also co-chairs the Enforcement and Justice Pillar.

Aleah Wagner

Strategies under the Steering Committee

The Steering Committee works to connect the work of the four pillars. Communication is a key part of this work and includes projects and initiatives to help foster multi-sectoral partnerships and collaboration.

  • Website and Social Media Strategy – the website was developed in 2015 as a central repository of information about, and strategies to address, problematic substance use and its effects. Associated social media activities through the WRIDS twitter account (@DrugStrategyWR) highlight overdose alerts, local information, upcoming events and updates.
  • Overdose Monitoring, Alert and Response System (OMARS) – OMARS  is a project of the WRIDS to alert the community to urgent overdose information and monitor fatal and non-fatal overdose trends over time.
  • Anti-stigma campaign – the WRIDS is working to improve the community's awareness of addiction and substance use issues through social media. In Spring 2018, a social media campaign was launched to address stigma associated with substance use using personal stories from people impacted by substance use in Waterloo Region.

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