Good News Monday: Harm reduction advances in Alberta

Content Notice: Opioid addiciton.

Alberta, as with many places in the United States, is in the midst of an opioid crisis, with a particular cocktail called fentanyl (10x more powerful than heroin, 100x more powerful than morphine) and it’s sadistic cousin carfentanyl (like fentanyl but somehow even worse) making the rounds, especially among vulnerable populations. It’s been clear to the evidence-based policy crowd that the best way to intercept the casualties in this crisis is to treat the issue as one of public health rather than of public crime, building relationships between addicts and health services instead of making them afraid to seek out help. Decriminalization of possession is a vital step. Officially, possession is still on the books in most municipalities as well as the Criminal Code of Canada, and we are in the precarious position of asking police to exercise discretion when dealing with addicts.

However, Alberta is taking a few steps towards harm reduction, a series of policies designed to simply keep addicts alive long enough for them to access help. Edmonton announced several safe injection sites integrated in existing emergency housing and hospital services.

The supervised-injection locations would offer individuals a list of resources:

  • Sterile injection supplies
  • Education on safer injection, overdose prevention and intervention
  • Medical and counselling services
  • Referrals to drug treatment, housing, income support and other services
  • Attention to medical needs that require an immediate response.

The services would also be intended to be an entry point for users to receive further social supports, primary health care and treatment.

Each location would be staffed with a nurse, social worker/addiction worker and peer support worker.

While the police chief has the right attitude…

“I think the big issue is the unmet care issues – the people that are mentally ill that are homeless that are addicted and they need help,” Knecht added. “I think if we can get them to a place where they have a safe warm bed at night, some meals, proper medication – they will become productive members of the community.”

…His officers might not.

I’m glad Alberta’s health and social services are stepping up, but we ought to be decriminalizing possession, too. Still, this is an important step to reducing the fatalities, and for once our provincial government isn’t cutting the essential services to try and give a helping hand here.


Good news Monday: Victim’s advocates debunk transphobic bathroom bills

The Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Woman has several hundred signatures from various women’s advocacy groups pointing out some of the obvious fallacies present in transphobic bathroom bills such as North Carolina’s HB2:

Nondiscrimination laws protecting transgender people have existed for a long time. Over 200 municipalities and 18 states have nondiscrimination laws protecting transgender people’s access to facilities consistent with the gender they live every day. In some cases, these protections have been in place for decades. These laws have protected people from discrimination without creating harm. None of those jurisdictions have seen a rise in sexual violence or other public safety issues due to nondiscrimination laws. Assaulting another person in a restroom or changing room remains against the law in every single state. We operate and advocate for rape crisis centers and shelters all over the country, including in cities and states with non-discrimination protections for transgender people. Those protections have not weakened public safety or criminal laws, nor have they compromised their enforcement.

Discriminating against transgender people does not give anyone more control over their body or security. Those who perpetuate falsehoods about transgender people and nondiscrimination laws are putting transgender people in harm’s way and making no one safer. We cannot stand by while the needs of survivors, both those who are transgender and those who are not, are obscured in order to push a political agenda that does nothing to serve and protect victims and potential victims.  We will only accomplish our goal of ending sexual violence by treating all people, including those who are transgender, with fairness and respect.

The letter is from April 2016 but I missed it amid my early blaggage. Still, I appreciate knowing that actual experts in victim’s advocacy agreed with my observations that these bills are solutions in search of a problem.


Good news Thursday: French Fascist Marine Le Pen is broke

Candy-coated fascist Marine Le Pen seems to have found her party without purse-strings: The Russian bank financing the Front National campaign went under.

National Front leader Marine Le Pen is struggling to raise the 20 million euros ($21 million) she needs to fund French presidential and legislative campaigns in 2017 after the party’s Russian lender failed, the party treasurer said.

The Central Bank of Russia revoked the license of the National Front’s Moscow-based lender First Czech Russian Bank OOO in July and the party has still to find another backer, according to treasurer Wallerand de Saint Just. Saint Just said he’s seeking international financiers in countries including Russia because French banks have refused to fund his party.

I just want to repeat this, without comment:

Saint Just said he’s seeking international financiers in countries including Russia because French banks have refused to fund his party.

Eat shit, fascists.


Good news Tuesday: Alberta to boost affordable housing programs by $18M

Mostly for the sake of my admittedly precarious sanity, I’m starting a Good News ____day series in which I will share positive news (or find positive news, if I have to).

Today’s issue of Good News blankday: Albertan government to expand affordable housing program by $18 million in partnership with the federal government.

Sigurdson made the funding announcement Wednesday morning at Bridgeland Place.

Owned by the City of Calgary and operated by the Calgary Housing Company, Bridgeland Place will receive $648,000 for suite renovations, replacing shut-off valves, a roof inspection and sidewalk replacement.

Similar projects will take place in more than 120 buildings in Calgary for seniors, community and special needs housing, owned or operated by 29 social housing providers.

Sigurdson noted that Alberta is one of only three provinces without an affordable housing strategy.

Coun. Brian Pincott, who is also chair of the Calgary Housing Company, said the repair costs are higher than they should be, as funding from governments hasn’t kept up.

He welcomes the injection of funds.

“For the first time, at the provincial, municipal and federal levels, we have government partners who are understanding that this isn’t really about bricks and mortars and how we build buildings, this is actually how do we support people,” he said.

The funding was made available through the 2016 – 2018 Social Infrastructure Fund, a two-year federal and provincial agreement to help Albertans in need of affordable housing.

Hopefully our provincial government will plug the gap in our senior/disability housing plans. Still, this is a much needed start!