June 25th, 2024

Rallies call on government to help Albertans ‘dying for access’ in drug crisis

By Lethbridge Herald on February 23, 2022.

A small group listens as words are read from family and friends honouring loved ones lost to the drug crisis during a vigil held by Albertans for Ethical Drug Policy Wednesday evening at Galt Gardens. Herald photo by Ian Martens

Alejandra Pulido-Guzman – Lethbridge Herald

Albertans for Ethical Drug Policy held “Dying for Access” rallies and vigils in Calgary, Edmonton and Lethbridge on Wednesday, to call for urgent government action to curb Alberta’s worsening drug poisoning crisis and for the removal of harmful barriers to accessing life-saving services.

The Lethbridge rally took place Wednesday evening at Galt Gardens where a small group braved the cold to stand in solidarity with people who use drugs, and in remembrance of the many lives lost.

Albertans for Ethical Drug Policy (AEDP), is a coalition of organizations, businesses, institutions, individual advocates, experts, and people who have lived or are living with the experience of criminalized drug use.

“In light of the reality on the ground, it is absolutely necessary for us as Community Outreach groups to come together to support the community to collaborate and provide support for people affected by this poisoning crisis to help keep people safer and healthier, but most importantly alive,” said Shanell Twan, Canadian Association of People Who Use Drugs (CAPUD), in a release to the media.

Albertans for Ethical Drug Policy say they are calling on the Government of Alberta to expand supervised consumption services and reopen closed sites, scrap what they call harmful provincial regulations for consumption services, provide access to safe regulated substances to replace toxic street drugs and offer rapid, barrier-free access to medical detox and evidence-based treatment.

“The UCP are full of empty promises. Where’s the new recovery facility promised for Lethbridge? Inquiring minds want to know – We’re watching you and tracking your unfulfilled promises,” said Lori Hatfield, Moms Stop the Harm – Lethbridge, in a media release.

“People are still dying. We don’t have adequate facilities here in Lethbridge,” said Hatfield before leading those gathered at Galt Gardens in a reading honouring the memory of those lost to the drug crisis.

The AEDP states the Alberta Government’s latest barrier, new regulations requiring an Alberta health care card to access supervised consumption services, will drive people away from these life-saving services and compound the crisis.

“This is a public health crisis. People are dying for access to supports, and doing so in record numbers. Our governments need to start treating this like the crisis it is by supporting harm reduction efforts, safe consumption sites, safe supply, and moving forward with decriminalization,” said Chris Gallaway, Friends of Medicare, in a release. 

According to the provincial government, there is no requirement to provide a personal health number but the operator must ask for it. Anyone that does not have a PHN should be encouraged to get one to reduce barriers to healthcare, but if they refuse to provide it they will not be turned away.

The AEDP argue the Alberta government is spreading misinformation around safer supply which continues to harm Albertans who use substances and creates chaos in decision-making. 

They believe the crisis is driven not by pharmaceuticals but by volatile contamination in the drug supply, and that we must stop punishing people for using drugs and support them instead by fixing the supply and ensuring everyone has good access to life-saving supports and services where and when they need it.

Mike Ellis, associate minister of Mental Health and Addiction, issued a statement in response to the rallies and the comments made by organizers.

“Alberta’s government has funded over 8,000 additional treatment spaces, removed all user fees from publicly funded spaces, and has made opioid medication treatment available on demand to any Albertan anywhere in the province through Alberta’s Virtual Opioid Dependency Program. All of the over 8,000 newly funded spaces are operational and available for any Albertan to access. With respect to a proposed ‘safe supply’, the Select Special Committee to Examine Safe Supply is speaking with addiction medicine and drug policy experts from across North America. There is significant disagreement among Canadian physicians on the issue of a proposed ‘safe supply’. The committee is giving this issue a comprehensive review and I look forward to their final report.”

Follow @APulidoHerald on Twitter

Share this story:

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
pursuit diver

Absolutely not! It hasn’t curb the problems in BC and every year since 2003 when the first safe injection site opened, the number of fatal overdoses increased, the number of addicts/homeless increased and crime increased. They have created a killing machine the attracts people with their ‘harm reduction’ programs that do not work and enables and even encourages addicts to continue in their addicts, with the ‘safe injection/consumption’ sites that encourage more by supplying all of their needs saving a tiny percentage of addicts through treatment.
BC is a money pit that has proven failure and anyone that pushes these failing programs are in bed with the dealers, because they are just as bad in my mind, taking part in the killing machine!
Getting everyone high is not the answer! Effective treatment is! Mom’s Stop the Harm should be shutdown or renamed Mom’s Encourage Harm, because they just refuse to look at the biggest example we have to prove, none of what they are promoting works! BC and the Vancouver DTES has proven that I realliy think we should start holding these groups accountable for pushing programs that fail!
Giving addicts more drugs is not the answer, treating them and getting them off the drugs is!


The Freedumb Convoy south of the border is missing one pursuit driver.

pursuit diver

I can see why it is hard to understand the issues by looking at what has happened in BC and Lethbridge when you can’t read. Sad!!!!
FYI, there is a difference between diver and driver!


Oh, sorry. I usually only read the “comments” in the Lethbridge Herald while taking a dump in the bathroom and didn’t have my glasses on. Lol


Doesn’t it get old for people to continue to make uninformed and uneducated comments like the one above by “pursuit driver?” Have you EVER read about or acknowledged what “evidence based strategies” mean when it comes to recovery? (I emphasize the word “EVIDENCE” for you.)

Moms Stop the Harm (MSTH) is a life saving support group for Canadian FAMILIES who have been impacted by substance use related harms and death. As a member of those group, I assure you WE ARE THE FRONTLINE WORKERS who share the real life experience of what it means to try and help people (our loved ones) recover from substance use disorders. We know the strategies that do and don’t work, and our membership and network encompasses not only thousands of families across Canada, but also actual “EXPERTS” who specialize in addiction recovery – inclusive of world renowned doctors, psychologists, therapists, scientists, and many more whom have dedicated their personal and professional lives to helping to save the lives of others – vulnerable and sick others.

Your opinions and the merits of your comments are nullified by simple FACTS.

Isn’t there another “freedumb convoy” you should be preparing to join upcoming? 😉

pursuit diver

The facts speak for themselves and organizations such as MSTH fail to acknowledge it! Harm reduction is a failure, and was proven right here in Lethbridge when the SCS opened and the number of fatal overdoses dramatically increased as did the number of addicts.
Sad that you suffered losses but even sadder that you cannot see that your ideas of a solution will only lead to more dying in higher numbers than in treatment!
You can call me all the names you want, but there has been 18 years to see just how it worked in BC and the example in Lethbridge! Effective treatment is the only way you will reduce the high number of deaths, not giving them more drugs!
You can bring in ‘EXPERTS’ for any topic, which you see in the courts for both the prosecution and the defence on the same topic!
You don’t need experts to look at the stats! Did legalizing alcohol stop those who died from their addictions or related health conditions? NO!!!
The more access you give people to these highly addictive drugs, the more addicts you will attract!
The SCS was shameful! They allowed pregnant young women to use drugs and young teenagers!
The facts speak for themselves! For every EXPERT you bring in I can find another EXPERT to counter what yours says!

pursuit diver

I forgot: If MSTH is a support group of FAMILIES, then how does a support group for families seem to be in the news all the time pushing for issues like giving addicts drugs? Or suing the government over SCS sites?
You are arguing just to argue but you won’t win it with me because I have done MY RESEARCH for 6 years, speaking with people across North America with SUCCESSFUL programs that save lifes instead of killing them! I also have been on the ground in Lethbridge, calling 911 and administering life saving measures on people that were just at the SCS or got their supplies, their “party bags” from the SCS that had syringes, tiny tin caps to cook their drugs, tourniquets, tubes for smoking drugs and other drug supplies!
I am well educated on the matter and I have seen too many of these young people die on our streets because misinformed people think they are the experts in solving this crisis!
Vancouver DTES blows over $360 million every year ( for many years ) on social and housing programs in that area which has a population of less than 20,000 people, many which are addicts, while many more take over parks and slowly die there! Now they realize their harm reduction programs do not work and blame it on the poor quality of the illegal drugs, so they want to give them opioids that are clean as they say.
Lethbridge already has a pharmacy dispensing a safe opioid supply under strict presciption guidelines!
Vancouver has been using vending machines as well as pharmacies to dispense prescribed opioids to addicts, but it hasn’t reduced the number of fatal overdoses or the increase in addicts.
In Alberta, as in BC many of the fatal overdoses have a combination of the legally prescribed opioid, along with the illegal street opioids. But the it is hard to find the Coroner’s report on those in the last 2 years!
Just imagine of the billions of dollars that just the Vancouver DTES has pumped into supporting the results of the addictions would have instead been used on effective treatment programs, which has shown and been proven that YES you can FORCE and addict to take treatment and it be successful if done right! I have seen those programs and high success rates!
I would suggest you end the tunnel vision if you really want to STOP THE HARM!


What treatment? Access to rehab and detox is barely possible unless you are rich. Where is the treatment center the UCP promised to Lethbridge? Why did mustard seed stop trying to open affordable housing for people at risk? When will access to detox not require so many hoops or stop closing due to Covid. The beauty of harm reduction is that it keeps people alive until they might one day be able to access more robust support. Having a battle around who has the best expert is fruitless. What is helpful are links to specific resources , places, spaces that can help. Offer those and we will pay attention. Short of that you are taking east street and just talking but not offering up action. At least Moms Stop The Harm offers information, links to resources including support for those who have lost loved ones to drug related harms. http://Www.MomsStopTheHarm.com

Dennis Bremner

I do note, which you do not “wewillrecover” the “evidence based data is created by conflicted people. One author of the evidence based data to which you refer was embedded into Vancouver DTES while publishing data that supported his business(over 30 documents).
The difficulty with your evidence based data is there are numerous conflicts and when questions like “How many people have died in Alberta that are already SCS clients you scatter so no one gets a straight answer. You also participate in the con of “No one dies in an SCS”. Which by the way was the Con the Fix Houses used to participate in back in the 70s. In fact I am sure that is where the term came from. No SCS keeps medical staff on hand that can declare a person dead. If a person are in the throws of death from ODing they push the individual out the door “awaiting the ambulance”. If the person is declared dead in the ambulance the “No one dies in an SCS is preserved. If he/she makes it to the Hospital and passes then he/she died in the Hospital.
Einrich in Copenhagen used to say “No one dies in my house”. I was there in mid 70s and a nurse I was dating and I, went to Einrich’s Fix House because she helped addicts. While there we found a fellow that was “cold and looked dead”. Einrich and one of his boys carried the fellow out and propped him against a road sign on the sidewalk. The nurse kept working on the fellow till the ambulance arrived. When we came back in Einrich said “see, no one dies in my House”!
Fix houses were enablers in 1970 and SCSs are the same today.
The problem society has with SCSs, free drugs, safe supply etc etc is you are not known for truth, you distort it when it is to your advantage and minimize it when its not. You pretend to care yet want to prolong the pain associated with addiction.
Until you square that circle you will be candle holders with no meaning. When I look for meaningful help the last group I would talk to is MSTH, they are obsessed with true distortions of reality.
If I were to ask MSTH how many should die per month that consume drugs, the answer would be none, period! Yet, data shows that a portion of addicts will always die, every month. So when looking at normal data, if you have 3000 addicts as Lethbridge does, you expect 3 deaths a month or .1% to 6 deaths per month or .2%. At this point half are dying at home or drug house, so approximately 3. They would not visit an SCS or participate in clean supplies because most people do not want anyone to know they consume. The remaining 3 die from being propelled by experimentation. So they visit SCSs and have staff rescue them as they plunge deeper and deeper into mixtures or concoctions. Then one day they shoot up and do not visit the SCS and die because of their experimentation.
You will say, where is your proof of these statements? Its easy, you purposely will not track your own “Clients” so “proof in North America” will continue to support your $100,000 windfall per client! LOPS and MSTH know full well that if an addict has to produce a Health Card, that the Gov can now track the individual. Something that SCSs really really do not want! Why? Because the question will be, why are all your clients dying that you insist would have been saved if they continued to come to the SCS? Why did they not die before the SCS was here and seem to fall like flies after they become clients?
You create evidence by promoting the words of the conflicted, and minimize the words from those that are not, for good reason….trouble is, we are all getting smarter.
I am promoting a program for Lethbridge that gives an addict a home and offers supervision when consuming, not because I have a mistaken belief that the facility will be saving lives but because the facility will offer some comfort until the inevitable occurs or the person rehabs. Clouding your righteous position with savin lives is total bull and everyone knows it. Well, everyone that is not conflicted!

Last edited 2 years ago by Dennis Bremner
Dennis Bremner

My interpretation of an SCS and its usefulness and I have seen various examples since 1967 while in the Navy
Lets say 30 addicts appear at an SCS, each having their own gun and one bullet. They all line up and put the bullet in the gun and spin the chamber. Place the gun in their mouths. Then an SCS person comes around looks in the chamber and if the bullet is lined up with the barrel she rotates the chamber one click so the person will not be killed.
All 30 then pull the trigger and no one is killed. The SCS worker then logs the number of guns she had to rotate the chamber, 10. So Ten lives were saved today.
Every day its the same thing. Only they bring another bullet. On the 5th day there is only one empty chamber and the SCS worker reports 27 lives saved today.
For the next 60 days 5 bullets are placed in the chamber and the 6th remains empty. Day after day the SCS worker records how many “lives saved”
Then John who is a dedicated addict and SCS client decides he is too lazy to go to the SCS today so decides that having 5 bullets was a piece of cake because after all he did not die in the SCS that last 61 times he had 5 bullets in the chamber. John loads the gun, spins the chamber and pulls the trigger and blows his brains out!
Moral of the story is, if the SCS was taking the gun and bullets away from the addict every time he left the SCS, then I would support SCSs. They do not, but they give the addict the impression he/she is invincible, until he pulls that trigger. Then of course the SCS then says “if he only came to the SCS he would not be dead”?
. So you have to determine how many will naturally die because of the dangerous game of roulette they play, and generally if you are below 2% per year you are doing well.
To promo zero deaths by promo’ing all these things MSTH would like, is crap , and always will be. But it makes them feel good, so I guess we should let Lori and her group feel good, I guess?

Last edited 2 years ago by Dennis Bremner
Lori Hatfield

Firstly, I would like to thank everyone who supported (either in person or on social media) the Candlelight Vigil held on Wednesday, February 23 in Galt Gardens.
Secondly, I would like to clarify some apparent misconceptions of what Moms Stop The Harm represents. From the main page on our website (Moms Stop The Harm) (which I encourage everyone to go to) you can read: “Moms Stop the Harm (MSTH) is a network of Canadian families impacted by substance-use-related harms and deaths.
We advocate for the change of failed drug policies, provide peer support to grieving families, and assist those with loved ones who use or have used substances.”
It would appear that some people believe we want nothing more than to keep people active in their addiction, that we want nothing more than for our children, loved ones or anyone with SUD (Substance Use Disorder) to stay where they are and not progress. For those of you that believe that you are sadly and erroneously mistaken. Do you think that we don’t want to see our children, loved ones, friends and families graduating from school, getting married, having babies, having a career, going on holidays, celebrating birthdays and holidays and living and experiencing all life has to offer?
We want nothing more for everyone to be free of the beast of addiction; unfortunately, that is a prayer and a wish that will never be answered – just as everyone being free of cancer will never happen either. What we CAN do though, is support the treatment of the disease. Treatment of SUD can provide our loved ones with all the same experiences listed above and it does not require someone to be abstinent. There are many, many different treatment options out there. Which is what we are rallying for. Support of treatment of Substance Use Disorder and the people that live with it is very much needed ~ more so than any other disease, as somehow there is a great number of people that see this disease as a moral failing and nothing more.
So much has been learned from this disease over the years from experts and from those with lived experience. It is a very complicated and complex disease, which is why you can not offer one program of treatment and expect it to work for everyone. It’s Just Not Possible. We need a variety of different treatment options and that is what Mom’s Stop The Harm is rallying and fighting for.
In addition to having the disease, there is a toxic supply of drugs out there, that is killing approximately 5 Albertans a day!!!! What we want is for our children, loved ones, friends and family members, and anyone living with SUD to stay alive until they are ready to look at different treatment options. Which again, is another hurdle we have to fight for. First, we have to fight for Supervised Consumption Sites, then we have to fight for a variety of treatment options, along with that we have to fight to end stigma and bad policies. If you want to know what we’re up against, I would encourage you to go to the Boots on Ground Street Outreach and Harm Reduction Facebook page and watch the video (https://www.facebook.com/BootsonGroundHR/videos/5172281236135922) (posted on February 23) of one of our moms who has been trying for months, along with her son, to get him into detox and treatment. Hear of the barriers they are facing right now!
We can see a world that includes, not discriminates against, people who use drugs.
The online word has provided a safety net for people to speak anonymously with judgment, ignorance and sometimes cruelty. Many of these people do not know of all the barriers that are out there, in 2022, that prevent people with SUD in getting the help they desire and deserve.
My name is Lori Hatfield and I am proud to say my son is two years in recovery! I am member of Moms Stop The Harm. They have, and continue, to provide me with knowledge, awareness, support, understanding and hope; which I am, in turn, then able to provide to my son.

If you can be anything in this world ~ be kind 💜


Well said. You are the expert needed in this conversation. Your lived experience affords you that title.