Opinion: UCP policies on drug addiction crisis putting lives at risk

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Tuesday was Worldwide Overdose Consciousness Day, and I’m grateful to have been invited to commemorate this present day outdoors the legislature with a number of the 1000’s of Albertans who’ve misplaced family members to preventable deadly overdoses.

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I heard heartbreaking tales of Albertans compelled to bury their baby, their guardian, their sibling, or their buddy. These Albertans will carry the anguish of their loss for the remainder of their lives.

Jason Kenney’s new affiliate minister for psychological well being and habit, Mike Ellis, was conspicuously absent.

As a substitute of grieving with these households, he selected to cover in his workplace and write an op-ed that was filled with intentionally false statements concerning the households outdoors his window, and the Opposition’s proposal for an emergency motion plan to save lots of lives. The Edmonton Journal did its readers an incredible disservice by publishing Ellis’ false statements with out fact-checking them.

Ellis’ dishonesty is no surprise, as his authorities refuses to acknowledge the appalling human price of its failed coverage — the staggering variety of Albertans who’ve died alone of a preventable overdose. We misplaced 1,331 Albertans in 2020, the deadliest yr ever. We have now already misplaced 624 Albertans within the first 5 months of 2021.

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We’re dropping greater than 4 individuals each single day whereas Jason Kenney and Mike Ellis are decreasing Albertans’ entry to life-saving health-care companies.

The Kenney authorities has closed a remedy centre for homeless males, delayed the rollout of an overdose prevention app by greater than a yr, closed supervised consumption companies in Lethbridge and Edmonton, and plans to shut them in Calgary as effectively.

Our caucus totally helps enlargement of residential remedy, however these beds are of no assist to an Albertan who dies earlier than they get there. Anybody with a liked one with a substance drawback is aware of that they could proceed utilizing for a while earlier than admitting they’ve an issue, not to mention agreeing to enter remedy. Many who undergo remedy will relapse. That is the character of the illness.

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Habit shouldn’t be a loss of life sentence for 4 Albertans every single day, however that’s the place the coverage of the Kenney authorities has introduced us to at present.

It’s straightforward to be overwhelmed by the size of the overdose disaster. Complicated issues like trauma, poverty, homelessness and psychological sickness all contribute to it, and have to be addressed. However there are particular and achievable actions the provincial authorities can implement instantly to save lots of lives.

Our emergency motion plan has three parts. We have to urgently broaden supervised consumption companies in Alberta. Nobody has ever died in one among these places, they usually present an important alternative to construct a relationship with a health-care skilled and make the selection to pursue remedy.

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We have to present protected, authorized and controlled options to extremely poisonous and unlawful road medicine. This can be a approach reserved just for sufferers who’ve failed at a number of honest makes an attempt at restoration. There are 14 packages like this throughout Canada, however they serve solely about 420 individuals nationwide. The common age of sufferers in these packages is 47. This can be a focused method to solely essentially the most determined circumstances on the biggest danger of loss of life.

Lastly, we must always make drug testing simply obtainable, to let a substance person know if what they’ve is lethally poisonous. If we’ve got an opportunity to warn somebody earlier than a deadly overdose, we should seize that chance.

These proposals aren’t new or authentic. They’ve been in observe for a few years throughout Canada and around the globe — they usually save lives.

Alberta households will collect in entrance of the legislature once more for Worldwide Overdose Consciousness Day subsequent yr. If we proceed on the present path, there shall be a whole lot extra households grieving the preventable lack of their liked one.

Jason Kenney and Mike Ellis can select to save lots of lives. Their failure to behave is unconscionable.

Lori Sigurdson is NDP critic for Psychological Well being and Habit.

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