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Addictions

City Council decides to close Red Deer’s Overdose Prevention Site

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City Council requests the Province of Alberta make changes to OPS in Red Deer

City Council made decisions (Friday) related to Red Deer’s Overdose Prevention Site (OPS), requesting the Government of Alberta (GOA):

  • formalize an orderly transition of the existing OPS out of Red Deer by the end of 2025;
  • provide in its place greater harm reducing options within our community that focus on health, wellness, and recovery, including more detox capacity, medication-assisted treatment (MAT), recovery coaches, counsellors, and culturally appropriate health and wellness supports, etc.;
  • provide dedicated grant funding to provide a continuous police presence/enforcement in the immediate vicinity of the OPS and temporary shelter, until the crime and social disorder impacts associated with these provincial services are better mitigated for the safety and security of our public;
  • substantially increase front-line supports for mental health and addictions within our community/region to better address the root causes leading to drug and alcohol addictions.

These decisions stem from a Notice of Motion put forward by Councillor Higham on December 18, 2023. After being read into the record on January 22, 2024, a non-statutory public hearing was scheduled for yesterday, February 15, 2024. Approximately 40 members of the public attended the non-statutory public hearing, with approximately 30 individuals speaking to the Notice of Motion, sharing their thoughts on the issue.

After hearing from the public yesterday, City Council debated the motion today, with Mayor Ken Johnston now having City Council direction to take the issue forward to the province and proceed with advocacy efforts.

“The public hearing and the debate of this motion were harrowing and emotional experiences for everyone. Each of us have been touched in some way by addiction; we heard that very clearly, and I am no exception. We heard heartfelt testimony from many members of our community, citizens, some who use the OPS, some who are service providers in the community, business owners, doctors, family members that have lost loves ones, and more,” said Mayor Johnston. “Council approached this most sensitive of issues with open minds, open ears, and open hearts. We are trying to improve lives for those suffering from addiction. This is a complex challenge, as these are areas where municipalities do not have jurisdiction. What we know is that Red Deer needs robust support from the provincial government for people with addictions; we need support for our community that is grappling with the fallout of addictions; and we need that support in the most immediate way.”

Mayor Johnston added, “Following this meeting, I will reach out to the Ministry of Addictions and Mental Health to book meetings where we can discuss how to move forward in the best interest of our city.”

Currently the OPS is located 5246 53 Avenue in downtown Red Deer.

Addictions

Liberal MP blasts Trudeau-backed ‘safe supply’ drug programs, linking them to ‘chaos’ in cities

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First responders in Ottawa dealing with a crisis                                           Fridayman 0102 / YouTube
From LifeSiteNews

By Clare Marie Merkowsky

‘There is certainly the perception by a lot of Canadians that a lot of downtown cores are basically out of control,’ Liberal MP Dr. Marcus Powlowski said, before pointing specifically to ‘safe supply’ drugs and injection sites.

A Liberal MP has seemingly taken issue with “safe supply” drug policies for increasing public disorder in Canada, policies his own party, under the leadership of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, has endorsed.

During an April 15 health committee meeting in the House of Commons, Liberal MP Dr. Marcus Powlowski, while pressing the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), stated that “safe supply” drug policies have caused Canadians to feel unsafe in downtown Ottawa and in other major cities across the country.

“There is certainly the perception by a lot of Canadians that a lot of downtown cores are basically out of control,” Powlowski said.  

“Certainly there is also the perception that around places like safe supply, safe injection sites, that things are worse, that there are people openly stoned in the street,” he continued.   

“People are getting cardio-pulmonary resuscitation performed on them in the street. There are needles around on the street. There is excrement on the street,” Powlowski added.  

Safe supply“ is the term used to refer to government-prescribed drugs that are given to addicts under the assumption that a more controlled batch of narcotics reduces the risk of overdose – critics of the policy argue that giving addicts drugs only enables their behavior, puts the public at risk, disincentivizes recovery from addiction and has not reduced, and sometimes even increased, overdose deaths where implemented.

Powlowski, who has worked as an emergency room physician, also stated that violence from drug users has become a problem in Ottawa, especially in areas near so-called “safe supply” drug sites which operate within blocks of Parliament Hill.   

“A few months ago I was downtown in a bar here in Ottawa, not that I do that very often, but a couple of colleagues I met up with, one was assaulted as he was going to the bar, another one was threatened,” said Powlowski. 

“Within a month of that I was returning down Wellington Street from downtown, the Rideau Centre, and my son who is 15 was coming after me,” he continued. “It was nighttime and there was someone out in the middle of the street, yelling and screaming, accosting cars.” 

Liberal MP Dr. Brendan Hanley, the Yukon’s former chief medical officer, testified in support of Powlowski, saying, “My colleague Dr. Powlowski described what it’s like to walk around downtown Ottawa here, and certainly when I walk home every day, I encounter similar circumstances.” 

“Do you agree this is a problem?” Powlowski pressed RCMP deputy commissioner Dwayne McDonald. “Do you agree for a lot of Canadians who are not involved with drugs, that they are increasingly unhappy with society in downtown cores which are this way? Do you want to do more about this, and if you do want to do more about this, what do you need?”  

McDonald acknowledged the issue but failed to offer a solution, responding, “One of the success factors required for decriminalization is public support.” 

“I think when you are faced with situations where, as we have experienced in our communities and we hear from our communities, where public consumption in some places may lead to other members of the public feeling at risk or threatened or vulnerable to street level crime, it does present a challenge,” he continued.   

Deaths from drug overdoses in Canada have gone through the roof in recent years, particularly in British Columbia after Trudeau’s federal government effectively decriminalized hard drugs in the province.

Under the policy, which launched in early 2023, the federal government began allowing people within the province to possess up to 2.5 grams of hard drugs without criminal penalty, but selling drugs remained a crime.  

The policy has been widely criticized, especially after it was found that the province broke three different drug-related overdose records in the first month the new law was in effect.  

The effects of decriminalizing hard drugs in various parts of Canada has been exposed in Aaron Gunn’s recent documentary, Canada is Dying, and in U.K. Telegraph journalist Steven Edginton’s mini-documentary, Canada’s Woke Nightmare: A Warning to the West.  

Gunn says he documents the “general societal chaos and explosion of drug use in every major Canadian city.”  

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Addictions

Ontario and Saskatchewan join Alberta’s approach to opioid recovery

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The governments of Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan are establishing a partnership to build systems of care focused on recovery.

On April 3 and 4, 2024, the eighth annual Recovery Capital Conference of Canada in Calgary welcomed nearly 2,000 delegates from Alberta, across Canada and around the world. A major focus of the conference was the Alberta Recovery Model—the system of care that Alberta’s government is building to provide treatment and recovery support for people living with mental health and addiction challenges.

Ministers responsible for mental health and addiction in Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan have agreed to collaborate on building systems of care that focus on recovery. This highlights the importance of breaking down barriers and increasing access to recovery-oriented care, sharing best practices, advancing partnerships with Indigenous communities, and advocating to the federal government for investment and policies that support recovery.

“We are eager to share the Alberta Recovery Model because we believe it is the most dignified, comprehensive and compassionate approach in any jurisdiction across Canada to help people overcome their mental health challenges and recover from the deadly disease of addiction. I look forward to seeing what this partnership brings as we work together with other provinces on building a system of care that focuses on recovery.”

Dan Williams, Minister of Mental Health and Addiction

“Saskatchewan is focused on helping people overcome addictions and live healthy, safe lives in recovery. Under our Action Plan for Mental Health and Addictions, we are doubling capacity to make addictions treatment more available and accessible, and transitioning to a Recovery-Oriented System of Care to better care for patients. By helping people overcome addictions, we can save lives, heal families and strengthen our communities.”

Tim McLeod, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Seniors and Rural and Remote Health, Saskatchewan

“Through our Roadmap to Wellness, Ontario is making unprecedented investments to ensure that those in our province struggling with mental health or addictions challenges get the care they need, when and where they need it. I look forward to working in closer collaboration with my colleagues from Alberta and Saskatchewan to build systems of care that prioritize recovery and help more people break free from addiction.”

Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Ontario

This partnership is a step forward in working with and learning from other provinces on policies that bring meaningful and lasting change to those suffering from the deadly disease of addiction, or who are facing mental health challenges.

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