June 6, 2019 8:23 pm
Updated: June 6, 2019 10:07 pm

Lethbridge response to UCP review of safe consumption sites

The UCP government has announced a funding freeze for new supervised consumption sites and a review of existing sites, leaving some questioning the future of the Lethbridge facility. Jasmine Bala reports.

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The Alberta government’s move to freeze on funding for new supervised consumption sites and launch a review of existing facilities has some wondering if the Lethbridge site has a long-term future.

Lethbridge’s facility has been open for a little more than a year and is already one of the most used in the world. In April alone, the ARCHES site saw an average of 673 visits a day, according to the centre.

READ MORE: Usage numbers remain high at Lethbridge supervised consumption site


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Stacey Bourque, the executive director of ARCHES Lethbridge, said she isn’t worried about the review.

“At this point there’s been zero talk of shutting down sites and,” she said.

“I do believe that the review is going to align with what the evidence already shows: that supervised consumption sites are effective and they’re cost-effective and we need to continue to offer those services.”

Supervised consumption is just one of the many services offered at ARCHES Lethbridge, including consumption treatment.

While Bourque said she isn’t worried, she does think some tweaks may be necessary after the review.

“I expect that there may be some changes and they may want to adjust some services, integrate more services, make certain things mandatory for operating supervised consumption services,” she said.

“We’re more than willing to work with them to do all of those things so we can continue to do what we do.”

READ MORE: Lethbridge supervised consumption site marks one-year anniversary

Lethbridge-West MLA Shannon Phillips, however, believes future funding concerns are legitimate. Phillips said she can realistically see the provincial government shutting down safe consumption sites and cutting services for mental health and addiction.

“We cannot reverse the progress that we’ve made, the lives we have saved and the ways of addressing this crisis that we know work,” she said.

The UCP government has not yet announced a timeline for the review.

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