Edmonton, March 5, 2017
Lorna Thomas, Susan Robble and Regan Magnus from MomsStopTheHarm, Amy Graves (Get Prescription Drugs Off the Street) and Rosalind Davis (Changing the Face of Addiction) and Shanell Twan (Streetworks) were at the Alberta Legislature. They were there to listen to an emergency debate about the government's fourth-quarter Opiods and Substances of Misuse report which reveals continuing escalation of the #opioidcrisis.
Calgary MLA Dr. David Swann called for an emergency debate on how to address/ redress the situation in Alberta. Dr. Swann's call for an emergency debate was granted.
Dr. Swann and an amazing number of MLA's (20 in all) representing all five parties (Liberal, Wildrose, Conservative, NDP, Alberta Party) spoke passionately, respectfully, and often personally about the opioid overdose epidemic. Many of them acknowledged our presence, offered condolences to those of us whose child/partner are gone due to a drug related death, and thanked us for being there in the gallery to give witness to the debate. The discussion proceeded for 3 1/2 hours, a half hour longer than planned.
All the MLA's who spoke used 'our language' (harm reduction, safe injection sites, evidence- based treatment, 'keep them alive today so they can make a better decision tomorrow') which was reflective of how educated many politicians have become on this issue. Several spoke of how families have come to their constituency offices asking for help for their loved ones. Lorna felt there was an overall feeling of compassion, not contempt, for those families and for those who were in the gallery.
There was no call for a decision in terms of a public health emergency, and no decision was made. But MomsStopTheHarm believe a lot of good took place. MLA's listened and learned from one another
The last MLA to speak offered a very insightful anology to where Alberta is at now with respect to the opioid crisis. He said that there are many horses hooked up to the cart of change. But currently the horses are all pointed in different directions. What is needed is leadership to harness the agents of change and get the cart moving in a clear, focused direction.