Talking about drugs, Part One

Heroin-assisted treatment and Rob Ford

From QP yesterday afternoon, NDP MP Libby Davies questions the government about restricting access to heroin-assisted treatment for a group of addicts (and makes a reference to Rob Ford).

Libby Davies: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health made a heartless decision to prevent those who need access to medicalized opiates from having it. She ignored her own experts and she ignored those who provide treatment when she changed the special access program. Is it too much to ask of the minister to put ideology aside and support a method of treatment that is scientifically proven to be effective?

Eve Adams: Mr. Speaker, our policy is to take heroin out of the hands of addicts, not to put it in their arms. We do support drug treatment programs that work to end drug use in a safe way, so that those who are struggling with addiction can recover and maintain a drug-free life. Drug treatment should be focused on ending drug use and recovering into a drug-free life.

Libby Davies: Mr. Speaker, it is ironic that the only person suffering from addiction that the Conservatives seem to have compassion for is the mayor of Toronto. It is inexplicable that the minister went against her own department, attacking the experts. She chose to recklessly put lives at risk. No wonder her decision is now facing a court challenge. Did the minister not learn anything from the Supreme Court decision on InSite? Will she reconsider providing this needed treatment?

Eve Adams: Mr. Speaker, under the special access program, Health Canada can approve emergency access to certain medicines for Canadians with rare diseases or terminal illness. This program was not intended as a way to give illicit drugs to addicts. Our government’s position against the use of dangerous and addictive drugs is clear. To keep dangerous drugs like heroin out of Canadian communities, our government has taken action to protect the integrity of the special access program and closed that loophole. I will continue to protect Canadian families and continue in investing in drug prevention programs for individuals and children.

Just before Question Period, NDP MP Andrew Cash read a statement about Toronto and its mayor that referred to Mr. Ford as the “Prime Minister’s fishing buddy” and Megan Leslie later made a reference to Mr. Ford while questioning the government side about the Duffy affair. The Prime Minister’s Office then worked a reference to Justin Trudeau into its comment on Rob Ford.

As for heroin-assisted treatment, never mind compassion and never mind Rob Ford. The conflict here is about what science has shown, what medical professionals advise and what a government decides is permissible (and on what basis it makes that decision). Maybe Rob Ford might somehow make us think about how we view drug use and addiction. But it’s the facts of the situation in British Columbia that matter here.

See previously:  The politics of the heroin addictHeroin-assisted treatment and politics-based medicinePerry Kendall on heroin-assisted treatment‘No evidence,’ Minister Ambrose?‘Under the guise of treatment’ and Heroin-assisted treatment goes to the courts

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