Calgarian calls for further protections in reporting overdoses

After a woman was found dead in a Bowness home July 16, Calgary Police believe it may have been the result of an overdose. While authorities are reminding Calgarians of the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act, Danielle English calls it hard to trust. Tate Laycraft reports.

A local harm reduction advocate is calling for more incentives in encouraging Calgarians to report overdose deaths.

Her calls come after Calgary police found a woman dead in a Bowness home Sunday.

They believe her passing may have been the result of an overdose and say first responders were not contacted when she was initially found.

“I think right now, a lot of drug users don’t feel like there’s a trust or safety with police and law enforcement,” Danielle English told CityNews.

“These are not called in for one big reason, and I think that’s fear.”

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Calgary police say it’s the fourth incident they’ve investigated this year, and nearly two weeks after a separate woman was found dead in Fonda Park.

Police believe her body was transported to the location after her death. It’s also being labelled as a suspected overdose.

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In response, the Calgary Police Service is reminding Calgarians of the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act, which provides legal protection for those seeking help for themselves or others during an overdose.

Though the policy can shield people from possession and breach of conditions charges, Doug King, a professor of justice studies at Mount Royal University, says not everyone is protected under the act.

“It would not protect me from police follow-up and court follow-up in cases where I had an outstanding warrant,” he said. “It’s a very limited kind of protection.”

“I think the Good Samaritan Act doesn’t cover enough. It doesn’t protect people enough. So they don’t have enough incentive to call.”

English instead believes that there needs to be more preventative action.

“We need access to safe supply, and we need drug testing. If we want to think about this huge problem, let’s start before the problem,” she said.

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