We’ve now had a few years of the low-barrier, harm reduction approach to solving or coping with our widespread illicit drug use epidemic.
Maybe it’s now time to review what has been accomplished.
Almost every public health official, provincial housing authority, city councillor, police officer and drug counsellor in this province openly acknowledge the growing tragedy of drug overdose deaths in British Columbia.
According to Minister of Health Terry Lake, so far this year, more than 600 deaths in this province are attributable to overdoses of illicit drugs. He also cited the use of fentanyl as one of the leading factors in this tragedy.
Despite all the talk and wasted money, people are dying in ever increasing numbers.
The low-barrier, Housing First approach didn’t save any of these lives, but the government keeps pouring money into non-effective, so-called harm reduction programs.
We now have safe injection sites, and one could be coming soon to a neighbourhood near you. We’ll also have supervised injections sites. I guess the next logical step in this goofy pattern is home delivery of free drugs with nursing supervision.
Ah, but all hope isn’t lost. Lake is lobbying Ottawa for greater support from the federal government to help deal with our botched approach to the epidemic of drug deaths related to the use of illegal drugs.
The do-gooders, hand-wringers and poverty pimps who rely on drug use and drug abuse as their reason for being will all tell you that we need to spend even more money to help them continue in their failed attempts at salvation for drug and alcohol addicts and those suffering from mental health illnesses.
Obviously, at our own local level, doing nothing is not an option, but the answer won’t be found by spending more money and adding more bureaucrats to the public payroll.
There must be an expanded dialogue between various federal, provincial and local authorities and the public who pay the bills. That process must begin with a new approach that isn’t mandated by the prevailing one-size-fits-all policy.
Although drug use, petty and major crime and other related matters are garnering all the headlines, there are a couple of other major issues which reflect a serious decline in the moral fiber of our communities.
We have a large casino, which city council lusted after because of the huge cash inflow to city coffers. We also have lottery outlets in almost every retail outlet in the province.
The upside cash flow from gambling frequently trumps any discussion of the moral issues involved, but there are too many undeniable tragedies unfolding in our community everyday as a result of addictive gambling habits that can’t be ignored.
We also have liquor available in every corner of town. There are thousands of seats in bars, restaurants, pubs and other establishments which allow serving liquor. Liquor is also available in grocery stores and possibly will soon be available even in barber shops.
There is a terrible immorality in the city’s lust for revenue from these sources. We’re already paying for the social clean-up and downside of these revenue sources and the bills keep growing
We are now confronted with broken families, ruined lives, drug addiction, alcoholism, mental illness, deaths and gambling addictions and, without a change in attitude, the numbers of people currently affected are only going to continue to grow.
With the attitude of the provincial government and city councils which encourage and promote these questionable revenue sources, we seem to be well down the road to becoming a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah.
If we are seeking moral and ethical leadership, I think we all got on the wrong train.
Sandy Macdougall is a retired journalist and former city councillor.