For every week in the fall, sitting of the Saskatchewan legislative assembly, the opposition NDP have brought a different mother to Question Period, calling on the province to do more about methamphetamine and opioid addiction.
On Thursday, Pam Sanderson of Regina came to the assembly. Her son struggles with addiction to both drugs and mental health struggles.
“I want to talk about a new model for addictions for the 21st century,” Sanderson said. “The crystal meth and the opioids here and across the country are so prevalent that we haven’t even begun to touch on a treatment model that would work.”
Sanderson said in the current system her son is repeatedly going in and out of jail and mental health facilities.
“My son is in and out of jail, he’s in and out of mental health facilities. He gets released within 24 hours or 48 hours and he’s homeless, he has no place to go. He’s now been refused services at all homeless shelters,” Sanderson explained.
She added, like many other meth addicts, her son can easily become agitated and violent. He is currently in jail for assault and is scheduled to be released Friday.
Sanderson has found that there aren’t any facilities in the province that can provide her son the help he needs to stay clean. There are detox facilities, but once he is done there, there’s nowhere else to go in the public system for continuing care.
Like other mothers who’ve come to the legislature, Health Minister Jim Reiter said he will meet with Sanderson.
Reiter said that the recent Emergency Treatment Fund agreement signed with Ottawa will help address issues in Saskatchewan with $5 million over the next five years.
A recent change Reiter said he’s directed the Saskatchewan Health Authority to take, is to ensure any patient leaving a hospital after a drug overdose is provided with a Naloxone kit. These kits can temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
This decision came after a meeting with another mother, Jenny Churchill. Churchill lost her son to an opioid overdose. Prior to his death, Churchill said he left the hospital after being treated for an overdose and was not provided a take-home Naloxone kit.
“There’s steps like that we can certainly take,” Reiter said. “This isn’t a Saskatchewan alone phenomenon, this is across the country. Every province is struggling with this.”
The minister added, there will be announcements coming for more addictions beds in the near future. Additional harm reduction measures are also expected to be announced soon.
Recently, the province announced more resources for safe inhalation materials at harm reduction sites in addition to a broad deregulation of who can provide take-home Naloxone.