Following are Mayor Chris Spearman's comments on the Oct. 18 announcement that Health Canada has approved an application by ARCHES to establish Supervised Consumption Services in Lethbridge:
This is an incredibly important announcement for Lethbridge that is going to save lives.
Like many other Canadian cities, we are in the midst of a crisis of opioid abuse.
I want to thank Health Canada and the Province of Alberta for recognizing the urgency of the crisis here in Lethbridge, and providing a swift approval of the application to establish Supervised Consumption Services in our city.
The vetting process for the application is rigorous, and so I also want to commend Stacey Bourque and the staff at ARCHES for working so hard to prepare an exceptionally thorough application.
I also want to thank Alberta Health Minister Sarah Hoffman for immediately putting her ministry’s full support behind Lethbridge’s application when it was submitted back in July, and I want to thank our local MLAs for their support.
The experience of cities in Europe tells us that Supervised Consumption Services benefit communities in several ways:
• They save lives because fewer people die from drug overdoses
• Communities are safer because there are fewer discarded needles in public places
• There is less drug use in public places
• There’s less transmission of HIV and Hepatitis C among drug users because of better access to clean needles
• And there’s increased use of detox and addiction treatment services
As mayor, I’ve been stressing to higher levels of government for months that the opioid crisis is not just a big-city problem.
Today’s announcement shows that they’ve been listening, and they’ve heard us.
Less than a year ago, we formed the Lethbridge Executive Leaders Coalition on Opioid Use so that our community could develop a coordinated approach to the growing opioid crisis.
I want to thank all of our partners in the coalition for their dedication and for working so well together.
I’m proud of how much our community has been able to accomplish in a relatively short amount of time.
Our work isn’t finished, but today is a turning point for our community.