Event Details

PHO Rounds: Opioid-related Toxicity Deaths and Health Services Use During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Ontario is facing increasing rates of opioid-related toxicity during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ontario Drug Policy Research Network (ODPRN), The Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario/Ontario Forensic Pathology Service, and Public Health Ontario (PHO) have completed a new report on patterns of health care utilization among people who experienced a fatal overdose in Ontario during the COVID-19 pandemic. This session will summarize the findings (up to the end of December 2020) from this analysis and discuss implications for planning and practice to reduce overdose and overdose risk. The first presenter will share an overview of the report findings, followed by two presenters that will discuss intervention gaps and opportunities to better support people who use drugs. Participants will have an opportunity to engage in a facilitated question and answer period to discuss findings and application to practices. 

By the end of this session, participants will be able to:

  1. Describe health care utilization and prescribing among people who experienced a fatal overdose during the COVID-19 pandemic 
  2. Understand gaps in the health care system for people who use drugs 
  3. Identify opportunities to improve healthcare and public health practices that better meet the needs of people who use drugs  

Presenter(s): Dr. Tara Gomes, Dr. Gillian Kolla and Jes Besharah

Tara Gomes, PhD, MHSc, is an epidemiologist and Principal Investigator at the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network. 

Gillian Kolla, PhD, MPH, is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research at the University of Victoria. 

Jes Besharah is a substance user who provides peer support and outreach in her community. 


The opinions expressed by speakers and moderators do not necessarily reflect the official policies or views of Public Health Ontario, nor does the mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by Public Health Ontario.


Public Health Ontario Rounds are a self-approved group learning activity (Section 1) as defined by the Maintenance of Certification Program of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC). In order to receive written documentation for Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits, please check “Yes” beside the question “Do you require CME credits?” on the registration form.

College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) Affiliate Members may count RCPSC credits toward their Mainpro+ credit requirements. All other CFPC members may claim up to 50 Certified credits per cycle for participation in RCPSC MOC Section 1 accredited activities.

PHO Rounds are also approved by the Council of Professional Experience for professional development hours (PDHs) for members of the Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors (CIPHI).

For more information or for a record of registration for other Continuing Education purposes, please contact capacitybuilding@oahpp.ca.


Public Health Ontario is committed to complying with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). If you require accommodations to participate in this event, please contact 647-260-7100 or capacitybuilding@oahpp.ca.

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Updated 4 Feb 2022