I stand in honour of my son's life and the lives of the over 11, 577 who have died because of a poisoned drug supply.

Presentation to the SCS Review Panel in Medicine Hat

Kym Porter, September 3, 2019

My name is Kym Porter. I am a member of MSTH, the MH Drug Coalition and the MH SCS coalition. I stand before you tonight as an advocate for the marginalized, vulnerable, stigmatized, voiceless members of our community. After my son, Neil’s death from fentanyl poisoning, I retired as a director with the MH Catholic Board of Education. Grief encompasses every aspect of my life.

I stand in honour of his life and the lives of the over 11, 577 who have died because of a poisoned drug supply.

Because none of us can legitimately comment on the socio-economic effects of a supervised consumption site here in MH, and because this panel has access to the many reports containing such effects of these sites in this province, specifically I refer to the Alberta Community Based Report on Alberta’s Supervised Consumption Service Effectiveness, I will propose solutions to the crisis as I would see that as the overarching goal of this review.

As like all harm reduction advocates, we believe in evidence-based solutions.

As garnered from Chief Medical Health Officers across this country, the current drug policies are not only creating much of the harm, they are also a catastrophic failure. Drug policies are making things worse.

Solution # 1 -We need to end drug prohibition. The drug policies are as toxic as the drug supply. Read Chasing the Scream.

New policies, with a shift to a public health approach, instead of a political approach need to be developed quickly.

Solution # 2 - We need to deliver a safe supply as the toxicity will continue to drive the number of corpses increasingly higher.

Solution # 3 - We need to remove the barriers to harm reduction services, not take away what few life saving supports we have.

Solution # 4 - we need to connect people with life saving health services and supports such as safe care, ancestral healing practices, safe housing and income assistance.

Finally solution # 5 - we need to decriminalize possession for personal use.

In closing, I would like to share these words from Tommy Douglas, a pioneer and founder of Medicare:

We are all in this world together, and the only test of our character that matters is how we look after the least fortunate among us. How we look after each other, not how we look after ourselves. That’s all that really matters.

Thank you.