Edmonton, March 15, 2017
Dear Minister of Health, Sarah Hoffman,
I was one of the moms who attended the legislature as a guest of David Swann to listen to the emergency debate on the Opioid crisis in Alberta.
Many of the members spoke passionately about this horrific crisis, some shared personal stories and I felt like everyone in the room truly cared. Then I looked down from the gallery and I saw members of your government "surfing the internet", looking at photos, checking out California on google earth, on facebook etc. At this moment my heart sunk and I realized that not everyone did in fact care. They couldn't be bothered to listen to the facts, the statistics or the personal accounts of the devastation that the Opioid crisis is causing. I took unpaid time off of work to attend because I care that so many people are unnecessarily dying every single day in our province. It is very disheartening to know that my tax dollars are paying for members of the government to sit and "surf the internet" while an emergency debate is being held. I took this lack of caring and dismissive attitude personally, because it is personal to me. Opioids have destroyed my family.
I would like to thank you for the steps that already have been taken to address this crisis. Additional medical examiners and naloxone kits are important, however those steps are reactive and not proactive. We need to take measures to prevent people from getting to the point of overdose.
When a substance user is ready to receive treatment, they shouldn't have to wait months to get into a facility. I was tasked with keeping my son alive for 2 months until a bed was available. He also had no choice in what treatment program he thought would work for him. The wait time for the program he wanted to attend was 6 months, and he and I both knew he wouldn't be alive if he had to wait that long. I personally drove him every single day to his drug dealers house to buy his fentanyl to keep him alive for 2 months while he hopelessly waited for help. He knew going in that the 12 step program would not work for him, but it was his only choice. He relapsed 6 weeks after he came home from treatment. 12 step and abstinence based programs only have a 5% success rate. I continue to fight for my son every single day.
I hope that we see more action sooner rather than later, as the death toll keeps rising. I can also hope that more respect is shown by members of the government when discussing health crises and tragedies.