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“There’s a lack of community support for the services as they are. What we want is a balanced approach where the people who need help can get help, but not at the price of safety and loss of businesses in our community,” Luan said, speaking to the government’s priority of treatment and recovery.
The government is funding $140 million over four years to implement a new addiction and mental health strategy that is meant to improve access to services for awareness, prevention, early intervention, treatment and recovery. This approach would also support treatment and medically assisted detox spaces, according to the ministry’s spokesman, Steve Buick.
Oliver said the decision by the UCP government to close the opioid dependency program in March shows they aren’t in alignment with what health-care and social experts are recommending. The move to defund the program has prompted more than 600 Albertans to sign an open letter urging the province to reverse its decision.
The letter, signed by medical professionals, injectable opioid agonist treatment (iOAT) patients and their families, academics, health-care providers and concerned citizens, expresses the group’s “grave concerns” with the closure of these clinics.
The program has been described as a “last resort” for patients with severe opioid-use disorder who have failed other forms of treatment such as methadone or suboxone.
Dr. Krishna Balachandra, who signed the letter, said the termination of the program threatens the lives of clients who are at risk of overdose and death from a tainted illicit opioid supply in the province. He said it could also increase health-care costs and burden an already inundated system.