Government of Alberta data shows that at least 1557 Albertans have been lost to an overdose since this time last year.
August 31 marks International Overdose Awareness Day, a day to “end overdose, remember without stigma those who have died, and acknowledge the grief of the family and friends left behind.”
“This year we will mourn hundreds more Albertans who we have lost to the ongoing drug poisoning crisis. These are not just statistics, but our friends, family, neighbours and community members,” said Chris Gallaway, executive director of Friends of Medicare. “Each loss is a painful story for the loved ones left behind. We must pause to remember each of them, and then rededicate ourselves to fighting for change for the living.”
In response to the ongoing crisis of deaths, Friends of Medicare, as well as many other community groups, health experts, and concerned Albertans have continuously called on this government to act to save lives, but have been repeatedly ignored.
“The reality is that under this government’s leadership, Albertans are dying in record numbers, yet still this government remains rooted in rhetoric over evidence,” said Gallaway. “Hollow talk of abstinence-only ‘recovery,’ does not and will not save lives. There can be no recovery if you are dead.”
Since taking power, the UCP government has been actively hostile to harm reduction efforts, including often using offensive and tone-deaf rhetoric. They have regularly attacked supervised consumption services, including closing the busiest site in the country in Lethbridge and going to court to fight to keep new barriers to access.
“International Overdose Awareness Day is a reminder that our governments must do better. Each of these deaths were avoidable with community supports. In the face of such tragedy, it has become all the more urgent that Alberta must act decisively to save lives, by supporting harm reduction efforts, supervised consumption services, safe supply and by moving forward with decriminalization,” concluded Gallaway.
Friends of Medicare is encouraging all Albertans to join in an event happening in communities across the province.
Click on each city to view the full details of each event:
- Calgary: 11:00 a.m. 1221 2 Street SW
- Calgary: 1:00 p.m. 102 – 2840 2 Ave SE
- Edmonton: 6:30 p.m. Victoria Park Site 6 at 12030 River Valley Rd NW
- Grande Prairie: 5:00 p.m. Community Village 10116 102 Ave – follow the purple ribbons
- Leduc: 7:00 p.m. Civic Centre, #1 Alexandra Park
- Lethbridge: 1:00 p.m. Galt Gardens
- Medicine Hat: 5:00 p.m. Medicine Hat Public Library (yard outside)
- Red Deer: 5:00 p.m. Rotary Picnic Park Shelter – 4837 43 St, Red Deer
- Wetaskiwin: 7:00 p.m. Jubilee Park
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