Passing judgment on victims of North America’s escalating opioid crisis does nothing to help solve the problem, suggests Canada’s health minister.

"It's easy to judge, it really is, until you're someone personally affected by this situation,” Ginette Petitpas Taylor, who worked as a social worker with the RCMP in Codiac, New Brunswick for 25 years, recently told CBC News.

"Many times we just don't realize these people have a story. And they're our loved ones and they have families. So it's a struggle for a lot of people."

There were 2,816 “apparent opioid related deaths” in Canada last year – or an average of eight people per day – according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Petitpas Taylor said a big part of the problem is that many people don’t understand its sheer gravity.

"I think, [in] my personal view, it depends on where you live. I know that coming from the Maritimes, probably, the reality really hasn't hit there yet," Petitpas Taylor said.

The minister recently visited the Shepherds of Good Hope in Ottawa, a homeless shelter with a program that helps people with addictions. During the visit, shelter staff informed Petitpas Taylor that they are in desperate need for the federal government to approve their application for a supervised drug injection site.

"Given the current overdose crisis, services in Ottawa are required immediately," the shelter wrote to CBC.

h/t CBC News