A group of moms brought compassion and pizza to Turning Point’s drug overdose prevention site, where they spoke with clients who are fearful of losing the supervised injection facility.
Petra Schulz, co-founder of Moms Stop The Harm, said it was heartbreaking to hear a woman say how much it meant that someone cared enough to visit with them Saturday.
“She said, ‘often, we’re treated like dirt, and it’s so nice to have you come here. You treat us like people and that’s so amazing,’” said Schulz.
Earlier this month, a committee appointed by the United Conservative government hosted a Red Deer town hall meeting to learn about the socio-economic impact of the overdose prevention site.
Schulz said at that meeting her members heard comments such as “giving needles to addicts is like giving pedophiles condoms.”
“Those are really, really hurtful comments. (Town halls) are suppose to collect evidence, but statements like that, they’re hate speech. That’s not evidence. I don’t know how the commission will sort through all those statements.”
The last of the town hall meetings are scheduled for Tuesday in Grande Prairie and Wednesday and Thursday in Edmonton.
She said a report from the supervised consumption services review committee likely won’t be available until the end of the year, and those who use the Red Deer site are scared of what the future may hold.
“They say they need this place. It helps us stay safe. One young woman said she’s lost more friends than she is willing to count. She said I don’t want to lose more friends, and I don’t want to die.”
Uncertainty is high in Red Deer, but uncertainty is being felt everywhere in Alberta, she said.
Schulz, who was a member of the Minister’s Opioid Emergency Response Commission developed by the previous NDP government, said research shows that people won’t walk or travel far to get to a supervised site.
“In Lethbridge, they assume they have drug tourism, but there is no research to suggest that. If you have to use, you have to use.
“You’re not going to hop on the LRT and go from south Edmonton to downtown to do so. So we need to locate these sites where people already are, but also importantly, where the other services are, because the idea is to connect people.”
Schulz is interested in how the province will invest the $140 million it recently announced for mental health and addiction programs.
“If you spend $140 million on something that doesn’t save lives, and is not evidence based, it’s a waste of money,” she said.