State Senator Gustavo Rivera Leads New York State Senate Delegation on Educational Trip to Toronto

State Senators will Tour a Supervised Consumption Site as New York State Continues to Consider their Implementation to Prevent Overdose Deaths

(Toronto, Canada) - Today, State Senator Gustavo Rivera, Chairman of the New York State Senate Health Committee, will lead a bipartisan New York State Senate delegation on a two-day educational trip to Toronto, Canada. The delegation aims to gain firsthand knowledge of the Canadian single payer healthcare system and supervised consumption facilities as the State Senate considers similar policies, in particular the New York Health Act (S.3577) and the Overdose Prevention Centers Act (S.5289A). This delegation includes Senate Majority Conference representatives, Pete Harckham, Diane Savino and Roxanne Persaud, as well as Senate Minority Conference representative and Ranking member of the New York State Senate Health Committee, Patrick Gallivan. The delegation will be hosted by Broadbent Institute, Progress Toronto, and Canadian Doctors For Medicare, three leading progressive Canadian organizations. 

State Senator Gustavo Rivera said: "The New York Health Act and the Overdose Prevention Centers Act are key policies being widely debated in New York as we face skyrocketing health care costs that are impeding access to quality care and an unprecedented rate of overdose deaths. The goal of this trip is to learn how similar policies and programs have been successfully implemented in Canada and leverage their experience as we consider the implementation of these policies in New York State. It is our responsibility to pursue bold measures to improve New York's healthcare system and I believe this trip will provide us with the background and tools to achieve that goal."

Comprised of members of the New York State Senate Health Committee and the Senate Task Force on Opioids, Addiction and Overdose Prevention, the delegation will meet with top Canadian healthcare leaders and experts to discuss best practices and overall policies implemented by the Canadian government to provide all of its residents with a high-quality, equitable and sustainable universal health care system. 

Rick Smith, Executive Director of the Broadbent Institute said: "It's our honour to host this bipartisan NY Senate delegation in Toronto. Canadians are intensely proud of our world-class healthcare system, one we are continuously seeking to improve with critical measures like universal pharmacare. We hope that our lessons learned can be of assistance to New York as it takes the next steps in improving its policies."

Senator Rivera and his colleagues will also tour a supervised consumption facility, which provides individuals suffering from addiction disorder a safe and confidential environment to possess and consume drugs, while connecting them to a myriad of supportive services to help them overcome addiction. As Co-Chair of the Joint Senate Task Force on Opioids, Addiction and Overdose Prevention, Senator Rivera arranged this visit to directly assess the operation, management, implementation, and success rate of this type of facility, which could potentially be instrumental in effectively fighting the opioid epidemic in New York State. 

Dr. Monika Dutt, Past Chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare and Broadbent Institute Board Member said: "Canadian Doctors for Medicare is honored to co-host the visiting delegation. We are encouraged by the State Senate's commitment to exploring bold, evidence-based reforms, and we recognize that the proven successes of our systems and facilities can greatly inform these efforts. We are proud to play a role in the development of more effective health care policy south of the border, as we continue to advocate for universal single payer pharmacare and additional reforms here at home."

Michal Hay, Executive Director, Progress Toronto said: "Supervised Consumption is life saving health care. Overdose is one of the leading causes of death of young people. That's why in Toronto we are proud to offer these services and in the last few years we've proven they work. Every month in our city alone, an estimated 70 people who overdose had their lives saved because they had access to services and support through supervised consumption sites. We hope this week's visit by the New York Senate Delegation will bring insights that help save lives in New York as well."

The educational trip will include: 

* Reception with Toronto progressive leaders hosted by Councillor Mike Layton.
* Dinner with Ontario's healthcare leaders.
* Tour of supervised consumption services.
* Brief on the Canadian health policy overview by Dr. Greg Marchildon, Professor, University of Toronto Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation.
* Brief by the Ontario Hospital Association on funding context specific to Ontario hospitals.
* Brief on improving patient care outcomes through machine learning and predictive analytics.
* Tour of St. Michael's Hospital led by hospital staff.
* Tour of Sumac Creek Academic Family Health Team and a discussion of primary care.

**NOTE: Interview requests for Senator Rivera will be scheduled after the conclusion of this educational trip.** 

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