By Lethbridge Herald Opinon on October 21, 2020.
Opioid crisis statement in support of all those living with addiction and frontline workers from faculty and staff at University of Lethbridge:
In September of 2020, data from Alberta Health’s COVID-19 Opioid Surveillance Report revealed that more than twice as many people had died from opioid overdoses in the second quarter than the first. The Alberta government has recognized that the harms associated with opioid use, including premature death, had reached levels never before seen in the province, mirroring the parallel crises in both B.C. and Ontario.
Despite the correlation between opioid deaths and the increased fear, isolation, anxiety, job losses and disruption to in-person services caused by COVID-19, instead of increasing services, the Government of Alberta has defunded ARCHES, one of the busiest supervised consumption sites in the province. The government has chosen to underfund harm-reduction efforts at the very moment those services are most needed in the province.
As professors at the University of Lethbridge, we write this statement to express our respect, gratitude and our support for all the frontline service providers who continue to work hard during this global pandemic to mitigate the impact of provincial cuts to these necessary services. The opioid crisis affects us all. The costs of defunding ARCHES and the ongoing racism, ableism and violence meted out against those who are living with trauma and addiction are felt not only by those most in need of services, they also have a sustained and negative impact on the students, staff, and faculty at the university and in the broader community of Lethbridge.
We wanted to be at the press conference today (Oct. 15) but concluded that it is more appropriate to instead release this statement of support in order to allow those on the frontlines of this crisis to speak and be heard in this public forum. We support you and we support all the students, staff, faculty and their families who are directly impacted by this crisis.
Caroline Hodes, Associate Professor, Women & Gender Studies
Jason Laurendeau, Associate Professor, Sociology
Maura Hanrahan, Associate Professor, Board of Governors Research Chair, Geography and