January 16th, 2021

Defunding SCS will lead to major harm

By Letter to the Editor on July 30, 2020.

Dear Honourable Minister and Associate Minister Shandro and Luan:

Albertans for Ethical Drug Policy are disheartened and appalled by the announcement to defund the supervised consumption service (SCS) in Lethbridge. We are a collaborative group comprised of advocates, service providers, and people with lived/living experience (PWLLE). We are strongly urging you to consider the ramifications of this decision. Defunding the busiest SCS in Canada will undoubtedly lead to significant harm and a sharp increase in deaths. The existing services must remain intact, to ensure continuity of care for the average 800 visits/day that occur at the Lethbridge SCS.

We agree there are unanswered questions related to the use of public funds, but to say this decision is not driven by ideology is laughable. If a fire department mishandled its funding, the government would not close down the station. The overdose crisis in Alberta is a raging fire, and we need to maintain and bolster current harm reduction services. Replacing the current SCS in Lethbridge with a mobile site that has a two-person capacity is the equivalent of using a Band-Aid on a bullet wound. When similar situations occur concerning operations and spending, a new management team is inserted or a different organization is tasked with taking over. The approach being taken with Lethbridge is deliberate and will lead to individual and community harms at an alarming rate.

Overdoses have been on the rise across Alberta; despite not having access to current reporting, we hear from service providers and we see the rise in EMS calls for overdose. The dual crisis of a global pandemic and a drug-poisoning epidemic are putting people at compounded risk for overdose death. We know COVID-19 has pushed many at-risk of overdose into isolation and has made the current drug supply more volatile than ever before. Any disruption in existing services across this province is a death sentence to our most vulnerable Albertans.

We are asking you to:

– Maintain funding for Lethbridge SCS operations, to maintain current services provided;

– Develop a transition strategy that assures continuity of care for those accessing SCS in Lethbridge.

These are not complicated requests. We are simply asking that the people who have come to rely on services in Lethbridge do not become collateral damage. We will not comment on an organization’s financial decisions, because our interest is in supporting people who do not have a voice in decision-making process.

The clients of Lethbridge ARCHES have done nothing to deserve being cast out into the street during a dual health crisis.

Ashleigh Alder, RN B

Change the Face of Addiction

Jamie Dos Santo, RN BN

Rachael Edwards, RN BN

Friends of Medicare

Heather Hatch, RN BN

Mandy Karr, MN NP

Amie Kerber, RN BScN

Elizabeth Sentner, RN BN

Moms Stop the Harm

Corey Ranger, RN BN

Ashley Robertson, RN BN

Patty Wilson, MSC NP

Share this story:

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Citi Zen

The raging overdose crisis in Lethbridge is due largely to The SCS allowing and encouraging continued use of drugs. This is most certainly not the answer to the problem. And speaking of collateral damage, think about the damage to property and lives of Lethbridge businesses and homeowners and children done by said druggies.
All of the above signees are clearly a part of the overall problem.
Harm reduction does not need to include encouraging the continued abuse of drugs.


“We agree there are unanswered questions related to the use of public funds” Is that all you can say relating to this NDP made boondoggle? Spending tax-payer money as if its their own!

One can only hope that your “Hail-Mary” attempt to save this expensive tax-robbing white-elephant falls on deaf ears! And the people responsible for ripping-off hard working tax-payers brought swiftly to justice!
The people of our dear little city will be the benefiters in the long run.
Can we imagine that! Kids getting to play in play-grounds again with-out the fear of poking them selves.

Our city turned into some resemblance of normalcy again! We can hardly wait.


Again, Citi Zen and johnny57 confuse causality.

That the SCS causes addiction is like saying that doctors cause illness.

The letter writers are correct in trying to separate the issue of care from the issue of accountability (and alleged malfeasance).

As a community, we have a duty to care.

Dennis Bremner

The Clients of SCS (a total of 130) are not being cast out onto the street. There will be a Mobile SCS that will be run by AHS. But, this still does not explain to Lethbridge Residents why SCS/ARCHES posted information that there are 1648 addicts in Lethbridge and only 130 of them use the SCS. The reason that its important to mention is because “are the other 1518 being cast onto the street”? No they are not. The other 1518 who seek no Harm Reduction seem to getting along just fine. In fact I would like to see the names of SCS/ARCHES Clients and compare them to the list of people dying within a 1000 meters of the SCS. It would seem to me that your enabling of “clients” is costing some of them their lives! In fact a disproportion of Addicts Lives? So it raises the question of usefulness of your Harm Reduction strategy to a level of “employment for the list of people who signed off on this letter”.
If Lethbridge actually gave it a minutes thought, you claim hundreds of lives saved with 130 clients, every month. Yet there are 1518 out there not using SCS and were not seeing body bags everywhere in Lethbridge? Why is that? Why does it seem the only people needing their Lives Saved consistently are the ones visiting the SCS?
I know why, they experiment with larger doses and different concoctions because you have taken death off of the table (they think). My bet is that buddy wanders away from the SCS after experimentation and he/she is dying because he/she was released too early for the concoction injected. So the “irrational NON SCS User seems far safer being supervised by his dealer then any SCS employee!
None of your math adds up, and none of the employees seem to do anything but assume what they are doing is helping. Look around at those not using the SCS and come up with a rational explanation why they are not dropping dead at 12 times the rate of those you treat? Why after a month of saving “hundreds of lives (within the 130) that there are not body bags everywhere from the 1518?
SCS/ARCHES has had problems with numbers since day one and they always SEEM to be Amazingly skewed to produce bigger taxpayer subsidies, bigger paychecks and a bigger empire for Bourque and Manning!
As time progresses we will see the biggest SCS in North America and questionably in the world, suddenly while supervised by Auditors shrink to a much smaller size of its advertised self…Then there will have to be another explanation as to why buddy no longer shows up 6 times a day to create the largest site, and so you could bill the taxpayer for 6 visits from the same person?
I sure hope the Board of Directors is doing some work to cover their butts because Lethbridge has lots and lots of questions for this group!


Two points:

1. “Overdoses have been on the rise across Alberta” – if the SCS worked this wouldn’t be the case

2. The ultimate responsibility of the SCS being defunded rests on the shoulders of those who were running it. Had they actually cared about the clientele and believed that it worked, maybe they would have operated it legally and honestly.

The Lethbridge SCS is a failed experiment on so many levels and citizens are tired of paying for something that has proven to cause more problems than it solves.