Province won’t consider safe supply programs to address spiking overdose deaths

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“We don’t have time to try and engage people in care and try to get them into recovery. For many people, this takes years or decades to happen. In the meantime, literally thousands of people are dying,” said Tyndall.

“This is the only practical way forward.”

Safe supply programs, where clients are given pharmaceutical alternatives to street-level drugs, are supported by the federal government and Canada’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Theresa Tam.

Both Kenney and Jason Luan, associate minister of mental health and addictions, have issued strong statements against the merits of such programs.

“We don’t believe giving people coping with addictions free drugs is a solution to the problem of drug addiction,” said Kenney.

Tyndall said the issue with the UCP’s stance on safe supply, and harm reduction generally, is that it’s based on ideology rather than scientifically backed evidence.

“I think it’s telling if his quote is really ‘I believe’ or ‘we believe.’ That’s totally what it is. It’s mystical thinking or something like that,” said Tyndall. “As they sit back and perpetuate this myth that people don’t deserve any safe drugs, then people continue to die.”

Kenney pointed to an interruption in treatment services amid the COVID-19 pandemic and available money through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit as reasons behind the spiking overdose deaths.

The premier said his government will have more to say on the topic in the next week.

Twitter: @alanna_smithh

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