Opioid Programs Need Further Expansion, Less Politics

Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann released the following statement on the expansion of Alberta’s opioid dependency treatment programs:

“$4.6 million in additional resources to combat the opioid crisis is undoubtedly welcome news. I am pleased to see that Edmonton and Calgary centres will receive more support, enabling them to reduce wait times for in-patient and outpatient treatment as part of the larger solution.

“However, access to harm reduction measures needs to be further expanded, particularly in smaller urban centres and rural areas where wait times are still too long and mental health care much less available.
“As I have said many times following each of these one-off announcements, this is an emergency situation requiring an evidence-based, co-ordinated and comprehensive public strategy – not a reactive, piecemeal approach.

“The government is failing to make significant headway in reducing the overall number of overdoses, which continues to rise each quarter. Combined with delays in supervised consumption sites, Alberta is clearly not drawing on all needed resources and treating this matter with the urgency and importance it deserves.

“Opioid addiction and abuse is quite literally a matter of life and death, yet the government habitually releases reports and makes announcements on the opioid crisis with barely any notice, and at times when they will receive the least amount of public attention.

“For example, conducting these activities just prior to a holiday weekend sends the wrong message to Albertan and belies the severity, urgency, and importance of the opioid crisis.

“As one of the most important issues facing Alberta and Canada today, we need to be very conscious and cautious about even the appearance of playing politics with people’s lives.

“Whether it comes to addressing concerns over the location of treatment clinics, federal approval for supervised consumption sites, or involving all stakeholders in developing and implementing solutions, we must remember that we are all on the same team. The goal is to save lives, not score political points.”