By Kalinowski, Tim on November 5, 2019.
Mayor Chris Spearman is expressing his frustration with how little provincial support there has been to date for various requests made by the City on behalf of Executive Leaders Coalition on Opioid Use.
The City’s partners in the Lethbridge Police Service, Lethbridge Fire and EMS, ARCHES, Alberta Health Services and AHS Mental Health and Addictions all made short presentations and stood for questions during the city council’s Community Issues Committee meeting on Monday. The reports, for the most part, re-tread over old ground for those familiar with the city’s opioid and drug crisis, repeating statistics and requests that have been stated numerous times before – with still no new commitments from the provincial government to act on these program and funding requests.
“Today, I respectfully asked the member organizations of coalition about what else we should advocate for,” stated Spearman, “but we actually need a lot of the things we have already been asking for. We need the province to step up as a partner, and we need to see some of those dollars flowing into Lethbridge. Recognizing and understanding that if they are announced tomorrow some of those programs won’t be available for a year, a year and a half or two years.
“We actually have to build facilities and staff them in order to address the drug issue.”
“My frustration is how little has been accomplished,” he added. “There are limits as to what we can do as a municipality and we desperately need help to address the drug issue.”
Spearman said he still didn’t know how much money Lethbridge would be getting even for the province’s previously announced drug treatment beds; let alone some of the City’s more specialized requests.
“I would express my frustration that the things we need, we’ve been asking for some time,” Spearman reiterated. “We need a dedicated Crown prosecutor. How long is that going to take? So we can effectively prosecute drugs. We need a Safe Communities and Neighbourhoods (SCAN) permanent unit in Lethbridge so we can shut down drug houses and stop the supply. How long is that going to take? We need the supports in the City of Lethbridge that are available in the larger cities of Calgary and Edmonton. Our problems on a per capita basis is the largest (drug) problem in the province, and we need the supports.”
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