The situation in the inner city is worse than ever. We see despair and degradation, crime, business failure, more street camps, more deaths, and Edmonton is no exception in most categories.
The Death Highway runs through downtown Chinatown and around Boyle Street.
But is there an off-ramp? Are there any reasonable alternatives?
British Columbia Prime Minister David Evey, a New Democrat, is calling for a range of bailouts, including measures that have not been advocated by centre-left parties in decades.
Eby’s focus is Vancouver’s Downtown East Side. If you haven’t seen the area, from a recent visit to East He can report that the level of suffering on Hastings Street is hopelessly sad and upsetting.
Tent encampments in front of planked buildings line city blocks with dwellings full of people in the pathetic depths of psychosis and addiction. Numerous empty businesses speak to the broken dreams and betrayals of property owners in the area.
Eby’s plan includes a process for people who threaten themselves with repeated overdoses to receive involuntary treatment to protect themselves.
I am betting that Daniel Smith’s government will follow the BC NDP and take similar action. Alberta’s new Ministry of Health and Addiction mandate shows the breadcrumbs of this new path. Interventions for people with potentially dangerous addictions yourself and others.
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We interviewed Edmonton Police Chief Dale McFee about Eby’s approach. McPhee said it will only work through cooperation between states, city councils and social agencies. “Is it a mechanism for success? Absolutely. But it’s 100% dependent on leadership and partnership.”
McPhee Metis The former deputy minister of public safety for Saskatchewan also said there is a criminal aspect to exploiting users on the streets. McPhee said dealers prey on users, and meth use encourages violence, although not everyone does harm.
Housing for homeless people is part of the solution, McFee says, but it’s not a complete solution and cannot be solved without treatment.
I asked McPhee about UCP’s current plans. This runs counter to existing consensus that users should never be forced to seek treatment and should focus on housing first policies, and addicts should be the first to get off. On the street to the safety of one’s own place, which is contrary to the idea that it is best to recover. But the main reason why housing first fails is that addicts still remain addicts in their own homes, unable to care for themselves or new places, isolated and overdosed. UCP favors putting users into residences, but combined with a free recovery program to keep users away from their drug buddies on the streets, critics say it focuses on transformation. Incorporate them into a new group of people who have
McFee said the UCP government’s focus on user recovery will help. “We believe the state is on the right track in this regard.”
The state has committed 8,000 new beds for addiction and mental health recovery, and the first of six major recovery centers will open in Red Deer in January.
But when hardcore users refuse treatment and refuse to stop using drugs outdoors, the current system falls apart violently.
McFee points to the Portuguese model. In this model, heavy drug users are presented before a non-criminal, civil persuasion panel of medical professionals. They offer treatment options, but ultimately also penalties for non-compliance with involuntary treatment as a last resort.
McFee says our process lacks this key piece, but our focus on health care could help. It is also wise for the safety and welfare of the community. “You have to do both at the same time … Now is a great time to try new things and not just try to do more of the same thing.”
On the one hand, our current system is too permissive. On the other hand, too many users eventually die or end up in prison for drug-related crimes. It is too harsh, such as being put in.
Wouldn’t the middle ground in the administrative justice approach be more humane and responsible?
We can take our current route, but it’s best to know where the dreaded highways lead.
Isn’t it reasonable to try another path?
Staples: The Highway of Death runs through downtown Edmonton.
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