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Kitchener council endorses safe supply initiative

The motion was passed unanimously Monday night
opioid
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Kitchener City Council is calling on the federal and provincial governments to loosen their purse-strings and fund safe supply initiatives in Waterloo Region. 

A motion was presented to council Monday evening by Ward 10 Councillor Sarah Marsh and it was passed unanimously. 

The motion highlights the worsening opioid crisis, saying most overdose deaths stem from an unregulated, contaminated supply. 

The concept of safe supply looks to undercut that market. 

"Instead of going to a dealer and purchasing drugs, you'd go to a health professional and procure pharmaceuticals from there," said Michael Parkinson of the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council.

Parkinson notes that there are added benefits to these kinds of programs. 

"One, nobody dies — that's pretty significant. The programs that exist — although small in Canada — nobody's died because you know what's in your substance. You have a high degree of confidence that it's not contaminated with who knows what. That's not the situation with the prohibition model that exists in Canada." 

It's like shopping at the grocery store where you can feel safe assuming the food you buy won't kill you. 

"You wake up and you know where your drugs are going to come from so the whole hustle and grind of stealing stuff, getting the money, locating a dealer, doing the drugs and then repeating several times a day — all of that disappears."

Parkinson adds that these programs have also been shown to reduce infection and petty crime. 

"We should never forget that the point of dependency in addiction, it's avoiding withdrawal which really drives the behavior, everything else becomes secondary," said Parkinson. 

Parkinson said these programs are less expensive than relying on the enforcement and justice systems. 

Councillor Sarah Marsh tells the Mike Farwell Show on 570 NEWS providing a safe supply of drugs allows people to have more options for treating their addiction.

"It also allows people to be supervised while they are consuming their drugs so that they don't overdose and die. The consumption treatment services site is in response, in part, to the poisoned drug supply that we have. But I don't think that it would be deemed obsolete if we have a safe supply as well."

She says providing addicts a safer supply of drugs can have a positive impact on all residents.

"It will eliminate the need for people who are hooked on drugs to go out and steal to feed their addiction. In places where they already have safe supply initiatives working, they have seen big decreases in the amount of crime, in the amount of erratic behaviour and general chaos that we are experiencing in the city of Kitchener."

As of Sept. 2, the Region has seen 64 suspected overdose-related deaths. 

 

With files from Aastha Shetty.

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