HSAA President releases International Overdose Awareness Day call to action

Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) President, Mike Parker issues a call to action to the current provincial government on International Overdose Awareness Day.

Edmonton — “International Overdose Awareness Day is about remembering – without stigma – those who have perished, grieving with those who have lost loved ones and taking action.

“Alberta is in the grasp of an overdose crisis. Last year, 1758 people died of drug poisoning – the worst year ever. We lack sufficient capacity for addiction treatment and mental health supports. If something isn’t done immediately, the current rate of deaths will see Alberta set another worst year ever.

“HSAA members are the dedicated professionals on the front-line of this crisis – paramedics, emergency communications officers and mental health and addictions workers. I can tell you we have paramedics spending entire shifts responding to back-to-back overdose calls and counselors with caseloads outstretching their capacity.

“This government must immediately restart the harm reduction programs they cancelled and expand publicly delivered addiction services across Alberta. The current “recovery only” approach taken by this government is not working to reverse the rising death roll.

“HSAA professionals are calling for the expansion of addiction and metal health services. We know harm reduction programs such as supervised consumption sites provide help to start treatment, ease the burden on the health-care system and save lives!

On behalf of everyone at HSAA, our deepest condolences go to all mourning the loss of a loved one to this terrible crisis. And our appreciation and gratitude go out to the thousands of workers and volunteers who are doing their best to prevent and respond to overdoses.”