June 23rd, 2024

Council committee rejects harm reduction resolution

By Tim Kalinowski on May 27, 2021.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDtkalinowski@lethbridgeherald.com

The Community Safety Standing Policy Committee of city council unanimously rejected a proposed resolution from Moms Stop The Harm for the City of Lethbridge to support the declaration of a national state of public health emergency over the opioid overdose crisis, to advocate for the decriminalization of narcotics for personal use, and to ask the federal government to consider bringing in safe supply measures so addicts would not have to turn to toxic street drugs to feed their addictions.
SPC members, which include Deputy Mayor Mark Campbell and Councillors Ryan Parker, Blaine Hyggen and Joe Mauro, felt they did not have enough information to endorse such a measure for full council’s consideration during Wednesday’s meeting.
Coun. Blaine Hyggen led the questioning of Moms Stop The Harm Lethbridge representative Lori Hatfield, who first submitted the motion for consideration back in November.
Hyggen asked questions comparing OxyContin as an opioid which was once considered “safe” to a current safe-supply drug under consideration called hydromorphine. He asked for evidence to show hydromorphine was truly safe. Hyggen also cited the opinions of a Dr. Vincent Lam, the director of Toronto’s Coderix Medical Clinic, which were critical of the federal government’s pilot programs on safe supply surrounding hydromorphine, which is increasingly ending up on the streets in the illicit drug trade. He also asked questions about destabilization which expresses the significant health concerns of people who are currently on “safe” alternatives like suboxone and methadone switching over to the harsher hydromorphine.
Hatfield said she was not a medical expert and could not answer Hyggen’s questions. She offered to take his questions away with her and bring back answers to the questions he had asked. She said since she was informed it was a submission and not a presentation to the SPC she had not prepared any formal presentation, and she was simply looking for support of the motion to bring forward to city council for consideration as other jurisdictions have done across the country.
Hyggen felt he couldn’t vote for a motion on which he has so many unanswered questions, and asked that the committee receive the submission for information only.
“Without the answers, I am just not prepared to recommend this to council,” he stated.
After the unanimous vote Hatfield said she was disappointed with the SPC decision, and felt if Hyggen had really wanted his questions answered the committee would have given her more time to go away and find the experts who could answer them.
“It would have been helpful if the questions had been submitted to me at an earlier time,” she told The Herald when asked about the vote. “I am not an expert and the wealth of knowledge you would need– you would need expert responses to the questions Blaine Hyggen was asking.”
Hatfield said she was also disappointed by what she felt was a lack of moral leadership on the overdose crisis issue shown by the SPC members during Wednesday’s meeting.
“We do have an election coming up in October, and hopefully there will be some different members sitting at the table after that,” she stated bluntly. “The bottom line to all of this is people are dying a needless and senseless death that can be prevented. There is so much stigma and shame around addiction. We cannot get out of the crisis we are in as long as that stigma revolving around addiction is alive and well.”

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pursuit diver

I am personally getting sick and tired of these claims that decriminalizing the abuse if these drugs will save lives!
Look at the Alberta Coroner’s Reports for 2018 and 2019 for the City of Lethbridge! They clearly show levels of the opioids prescribed to addicts, along with street opioids that were in their blood when they fatally overdosed. They want the ‘buzz’ from the opioids!
Millions of Canadian taxpayer’s dollars are being burned up paying for opioid dispensing machines for addicts with prescriptions to walk up the the vending machine, put their palm in the reader and get their drugs and guess what? They numbers of fatal overdoses continue to rise!
Also make note that many of the addicts on the streets have presciptions for opioids, that are given out daily to them!
We do not need to decriminalize opioids! We need to take of the gloves and get serious about the crimes on our streets and send them to drug treatment to get them off the drugs! There will always be losses due to addictions, but enabling them to do more drugs increases the those numbers exponentially!
Look at the mess next door in BC! Don’t tell me that giving them more access to drugs will help! Opioids started the whole gong-show in 2003 with their safe injection sites, that have proven to do nothing but increase the numbers of fatal overdoses! Look at the stats and look at the Alberta Coroner’s report for Lethbridge and also note that we have seen a large decrease in fatal overdoses in 2021, thanks to the government waking up and seeing that it generated addicts and increased overdoses!
Time to let the police, the courts and the treatment facilities take over and bring back some sanity to the response!
The downtown core has paid a high price for as well, not just the people who died from this! We want our city back! Time for addicts to start taking some responsibilty!


I am disgusted with the process that took place during this committee hearing. Lori Hatfield is a Lethbridge citizen speaking up on behalf of a group of mothers who have lost loved ones to drug related harms or whose loved ones are using substances. It takes courage to go before a city council committee and present a point of view. She was grilled with medically related questions and was prepared to consult with medical experts to get answers and bring those back to committee. In Edmonton when such a resolution was put before a similar city council committee, 18 speakers spoke to the topic, including a medical doctor and a public health expert. I am very disappointed in the Lethbridge committee that they were not open to further input from such experts. Instead they closed their minds and the door on further discussion. Shame on them.