Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Jason Luan, right, was in Red Deer recently to tour the supervised consumption site. He also met with Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan and Red Deer North MLA Adriana LaGrange. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff

Alberta minister says families claim naloxone encourages drug users to take more risk

CALGARY — An Alberta government minister says families affected by opioid abuse have told him that naloxone was encouraging their loved ones to take greater risks because they knew the life-saving drug could save them if they went too far.

Associate Minister of Health and Addictions Jason Luan made the comment Friday when speaking to reporters about concerns he’d heard during a roundtable discussion in Calgary to mark Saturday’s Overdose Awareness Day.

The Opposition NDP is demanding United Conservative Premier Jason Kenney fire Luan, with the party’s shadow critic calling the remark “disgraceful and offensive to those grieving the loss of a loved one.”

Last month, Luan deleted a tweet he’d made that questioned the science supporting supervised drug consumption sites, suggesting it was funded by the “multi-billion-dollar Pharma industry.”

This month, the province appointed a panel to examine the social and economic effects of safe consumption sites for drug users.

Luan tweeted Saturday that naloxone kits saves lives, and the government supports their availability.

“I met with many families adversely affected by addiction to hear their heart-wrenching stories and views. Some families expressed concern that the presence of naloxone was encouraging their loved ones to take greater risks, knowing that the life-saving drug was nearby,” Luan wrote.

“I was asked by media what I heard from families, and recited many examples, including this one. This concern was expressed by families and are their words and experience. This is not my opinion or the position of the government of Alberta.”

In his remarks to reporters on Friday, Luan said there was “a fine line” between wanting to help, and becoming “an enabler.”

A review of safe injection sites was a UCP election promise, but the Opposition has suggested the panel is rigged against the sites because they claim it’s stacked with advocates of an “abstinence-only” approach.

Heather Sweet, NDP Opposition critic for mental health and addictions, said Saturday that Luan’s latest comments about naloxone shows he lacks understanding of the opioid crisis.

“For the Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions to imply people are intentionally overdosing is disgraceful and offensive to those grieving the loss of a loved one today,” Sweet said in a news release.

“In just a few short months, it’s become clear Minister Luan lacks the understanding, sensitivity, and competence to do his job. Premier Kenney should fire this minister immediately.”

Alberta Health Services has made kits available at pharmacies and walk-in clinics free for anyone who wants one, without requiring identification or a prescription.

When administered properly the life-saving medication can rapidly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

Federal Health Minister Ginette Petipas Taylor announced in July that $22.3 million from the recent federal budget will be used to get naloxone kits and overdose training sessions to underserved communities so more Canadians can save lives.

Just Posted

Wildfire that threatened Alberta communities was arson: RCMP, province

EDMONTON — A wildfire that threatened remote communities in north-central Alberta and… Continue reading

Fatal vehicle crash reported near Rimbey

Multiple vehicles involved

Ukraine’s president urges lawmakers to take polygraph test

KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s president on Wednesday urged a group of lawmakers… Continue reading

Rogers Communications reports $593M third-quarter profit, cuts revenue guidance

TORONTO — Rogers Communications Inc. cut its financial guidance as it reported… Continue reading

Mock federal election for students also ends in Liberal minority

If Canada’s elementary and high school students were the ones responsible for… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Tuesday The Small Business Centre at Burman University’s School of Business invites… Continue reading

Military balls were once a highlight of Halloween

Another Halloween is rapidly approaching. It is one of the most popular… Continue reading

Very complex: Nats, Astros share spring site, meet in Series

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Asked how his Washington Nationals figured out… Continue reading

Canada’s Milos Raonic loses to Korea’s Hyeon Chung in return from injury

VIENNA — Milos Raonic’s first tour match in more than two months… Continue reading

Loughlin, 10 other parents charged anew in college scandal

BOSTON — “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin, her fashion designer husband, Mossimo… Continue reading

Louvre exhibit acclaims Da Vinci, 500 years after his death

PARIS — Much about Leonardo Da Vinci remains an enigma: the smile… Continue reading

Trudeau must keep promise to support the West, Kenney and Moe say

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s promise to support the West should be more… Continue reading

Nationals get best of Gerrit Cole, beat Astros in World Series Game 1

Nationals 5 Astros 4 HOUSTON —The first game of any World Series… Continue reading

Most Read