Street Tales: The debate of costs

Unknowingly, not only doctors, but we have all subscribed to the Hippocratic Oath as sworn by the medical people in our stand to save life at all costs. My question is with the advent of legalized assisted suicide is this oath still relevant? I find that society is slowly, but surely, rejecting the morality that gives value to a human life.

Even though I was not present at the debates for the location of a Safe Injection Site, (SIS) I can imagine a lot of the debate centred around the statement from individuals and small businesses in which they expressed: “Not in my neighbourhood you don’t!” I contend there is a degree of ignorance in that statement in that … THESE FOLKS ARE ALREADY THERE! Let’s then learn how to accommodate the situation as it exists. How? I’m only one voice on this issue, so I just ask that you give me some latitude on this.

I have heard and studied the fact Portugal legalized all narcotics and since it did, the overall consumption has dropped. This is true, but few people read the next article.

Before legalization the costs to deal with this problem had risen to 0.25 per cent of GDP; after the legalization the cost has risen to 3.0 per cent GDP. The fact is there is a SIS site on almost every corner (well, not quite), but they are very prolific and each one is manned.

Our city in its deliberations on this subject will have discussed the financial impact of operating a SIS.

As this, thankfully, is a provincial matter, the monetary impact on the city will probably be minimal. What I see at this point is City Council has not taken ownership of this part of our community; my perception is it still takes it as an alien intrusion to be fought hard.

One of a few costs I believe the city has incurred is scouring the streets, back alleys and playgrounds and probably school grounds for spent needles and messes left by addicts. Even though other agencies have been paid to do so, the city has picked up the tab to clean up. I have heard that the cost to the city is about $125,000 per year. This on top of $400,000 for camp clean-up. They probably assume this cost will be reduced with the placement of a SIS, but with just one site for the entire city, this will be but a dream.

The large study on the drug problem done recently was done only because the provincial government paid for it. In its synopsis, the city declared because it was a provincial jurisdiction, absolutely no cost would be incurred by the city.

Even by some city officials we have had at the kitchen have been told to get a handle on the problems “with YOUR people”. New revelation folks – they are not our people. But they are our neighbours and as such, a part of this community, which city council was elected to represent – without discrimination.

If I question friends and others from different cities, I find exactly the same debates are underway, so one question would be, how can we communicate with the other cities, what worked, what didn’t? If we don’t communicate, why not? But for now we will add 10 new Mounties to our police precinct, at a cost of $153,000 each, to crack down harder on a population they will drive underground.

What will transpire once the issue goes underground is anyone’s guess. But we will lose sight of and the ability to control the harm done to the most vulnerable – our youth.

This is the second instalment of a five part series.

Chris Salomons is the kitchen co-ordinator at Potters Hands.

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