Albertans Need Support, not Punishment.

Albertans Need Support, not Punishment.

EDMONTON — June 26 is the Global Day of Action for the Support Don’t Punish campaign. In Edmonton, Friends of Medicare will be joining other advocates and community members gathering at 12:00 noon at Churchill Square today for a rally and march in opposition to the UCP government’s proposed forced treatment legislation, and in support of evidence-based voluntary treatment options in Alberta, including harm reduction services.

While the government has remained unfaltering in their abstinence-only approach to the province’s drug toxicity crisis, Alberta continues to see our highest ever number of drug poisoning deaths. In response to another record-breaking death toll in 2023, health care workers, advocates, and Albertans who are directly impacted by the ongoing drug toxicity crisis have been urging this government to put ideology aside, and to stop promoting a false dichotomy between treatment services and harm reduction. The data makes it glaringly clear that Alberta urgently needs both.

“Alberta continues to see record deaths due to drug poisonings, and massive pressures on our health care system due to this ongoing crisis. But rather than follow the evidence to stop this tragic loss of life, the government continues to be focused on cherry-picking facts to sell their agenda,” said Friends of Medicare’s executive director, Chris Gallaway. “Every single one of Alberta’s 1,706 drug poisoning deaths last year represents a policy failure. It’s time we change course.” 

Friends of Medicare remains concerned about the government’s announcement of a new entity for mental health and addictions, a new crown corporation to do research, and their ill-conceived promise to pass legislation allowing for forced treatment in the coming fall legislative session. The provincial government continues to siphon off our public health care dollars towards under-regulated, for-profit providers, and proliferate their government’s aggressive privatization agenda in our health care.

Addictions care is health care, full stop. Albertans need to know that their mental health and addictions services are being delivered as part of our public health care system, not contracted out to the lowest bidder seeking to profit off of Albertans’ tragedy.” concluded Gallaway. “We must ensure that these health care services are being publicly delivered, with the full transparency and accountability that Albertans and their families deserve.”

Friends of Medicare continues to urge Albertans to send an email to the Premier, the Minister and their MLA in support of a full spectrum of mental health and addiction care services, including harm reduction.


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