Project-Based Work Model

In 2023, the WRIDS moved away from the previously used pillar committee model towards a project-based work model. Under this new model WRIDS focuses on specific projects identified to address community needs surrounding substance use allowing for a more targeted and integrated response. At initial partner meetings under this new framework specific areas of need were identified, which were taken away by the WRIDS coordinator and the WRIDS Steering Committee to both strike new work groups and transition previously existing work groups into the new framework. Many of the new groups spend 2023 in an exploratory phase, gathering further relevant information to identify specific projects as well as picking up previous work that had been stalled due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. In 2024, the work groups look forward to formalizing evidence- and community-informed projects to further pursue to address the needs of people who use drugs in Waterloo Region.

WRIDS Work Groups

Overdose Monitoring & Alert Response System (OMARS)

The Overdose Monitoring Alert and Response System (OMARS) provides local and timely information about overdose in Waterloo Region drawing from a range of data indicators and input from community partners. Learn more about the OMARS work group or subscribe to alerts.

Since the launch of the Drug Checking Program from Sanguen Health Centre, the WRIDS and OMARS Committee have been working collaboratively to find ways to more strongly integrate key program findings into community drug alerts.

Overdose Prevention Work Group
The goal of the Overdose Prevention work group is to work with priority populations through partnership to decrease the incidence and negative impacts of drug poisoning and policy crisis in Waterloo Region. A wide range of activities falls under this group with a central focus being the planning of annual International Overdose Awareness Day events. Subscribe to the Drug Strategy News and Upcoming Events channels for information on upcoming events from this work group.
Addressing Barriers to Calling 9-1-1 After Overdose Work Group

The goal of the Addressing Barriers to Calling 9-1-1 After Overdose work group is to detail the root causes of the barriers that prevent people from calling 9-1-1 after overdose and to develop and implement a workplan(s) to actionize evidence-informed solutions.

After conducting a literature review as well as insights from work group members with lived/living experiences, the work group identified police presence and experiences at hospital as two of the many barriers to group would like to focus on.

Based on this work, harm reduction based anti-stigma education for hospital employees was identified as a project area. Membership was recruited from all three hospitals in the region and the group is currently working collaboratively to create appropriate training.

It was also identified that an alternative response team that can provide emergency medical support after a drug poisoning event without the presence of police is needed. The group will explore this in-depth, including potential connections to the community safety and well-being plan, in the near future.

Advancing Decriminalization Work Group.

The WRIDS Steering Committee has identified the decriminalization of personal possession a key component of a necessary policy shift to reduce the harms experienced by people who use drugs through a variety of mechanisms. Part of the work around this topic is to conduct an environmental scan of current supports to have an inventory of what exists that could support such a policy. The work focus of this group is undergoing a reassessment to ensure resources are being best utilized in a changing policy context.

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