Experts concerned with Alberta safe supply review

A review looking at safe supply, informing Alberta’s safe supply committee, has a group of over national 50 experts concerned with it’s content and conclusions. As Taylor Braat report, recommendations from the report, are expected in June, which could play into future policy.

A report on safe supply, which was commissioned by the UCP, is being criticized by a group of experts.

The group says the review is not only ideologically biased but also doesn’t stand up factually. Bernie Pauly is one of 58 experts who signed an open letter to the UCP-chosen safe supply committee about the review, which ultimately found no benefits in adding safe supply to Alberta’s opioid crisis strategy.

“It’s of critically low quality. There are some methodologies what we call in research some methodological problems,” said Pauly, a scientist at the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research.

“When you have a study that doesn’t meet the accepted standards for a rapid review, and when there actually is some emerging evidence, and you come to conclusions that it’s going to cause harm, that’s actually dangerous.”

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There were a record 1,758 opioid-related deaths last year in Alberta and on average, 20 Canadians die every day.

“We have people dying every day of overdoses, if people are able to access a prescription and if it’s the right one for them and they have the right resources it can actually reduce overdoses. So we need to build on that evidence,” said Pauly.

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Angie Staines, founder of the 4b Harm Reduction Society in Edmonton, says, “that anticipatory grief is just always with you.”

Staines says her son, Brandon, has been using substances for 10 years. Like many others in a similar situation, she says every day is a struggle.

“It affects every aspect. It’s the first thing you think of when you wake up, the last before you fall asleep. I love my son, substance user or not, if he had a safe supply and needed it for the rest of his life and that meant he could be alive, I would support it 500 per cent,” she explained.

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In a statement to CityNews, the review’s author, Dr. Julian Somers, says he believes “the letter’s authors are upset with our conclusions rather than our methods.”

“We advocate for a sea change in Canadian addiction practices away from a reliance on medications and toward evidence-based interventions that address root causes of addiction,” Somers, a professor at Simon Fraser University, explained.

Advocates and the letter’s signatories are highly concerned given the immediacy of the issue.

“Dead people don’t recover. People are dying from a poisoned supply. Safe supply is life and will save people’s lives,” added Staines.

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