UCP AGM resolutions targeting healthcare, safe consumption, and parental rights prompt responses from experts, opposition

Some big resolutions were made during this weekend’s United Conservative Party annual general meeting in Calgary.

While the resolutions aren’t binding, they do give Albertans a good idea of the direction that the UCP wants to take public policies in.

But, not everyone is please with the trajectory of certain policies.

Backlash on the UCP’S resolution on pronoun changes in classrooms is already popping up, with Premier Danielle Smith telling reporters that parents have a right to know what’s going on with their kids, no matter how their child chooses to identify.

Attendees passed a non-binding resolution that would require the written consent of parents whenever a student under 16 wants to change their name or pronouns at school

NDP MLA Janis Irwin took to X to say this will “target the most vulnerable,” with leader Rachel Notley sharing a similar take online.

Harm reduction advocate Danielle English says the resolution to slash provincial funding for safe consumption is dangerous and unethical, adding it backs the UCP’S current ‘abstinence-based method’ to address the crisis, which she says is clearly not working.

English said the UCP needs to listen to experts, adding that the resolution to cut provincial funding to safe consumption is dangerous and will have deadly consequences.

“Safe consumption sites do not increase crime, and they do not increase drug use,” she said. “What they do do is decrease the amount of poisonings, decrease the spread of HIV and Hep C, decrease injection-based infection, [and] act as a hub for people who use drugs to get resources.”

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English explains the choice to eliminate support for safe consumption sites goes against all the available data.

“Honestly, I’m feeling very, very terrified,” she said. “I’m also very confused because we have a lot of data around safe consumption sites and the data we have around safe consumption sites lets us know they’re a really integral part of managing and supporting the drug crisis.”

Another notable comment made by Premier Smith was her announcement that the work to decentralize AHS, which is part of a larger healthcare reform plan, will begin in the coming weeks.

Watch: 2023 annual general meeting for Alberta’s UCP brings over 3,700 people

This statement came just several days after the Alberta Medical Association (AMA) president. Dr. Paul Parks hosted a media conference in the midst of his province-wide tour visiting physicians.

“Physicians should be involved, the AMA should be involved. We should be able to help them form it,” he told conference attendees last week. “Even small changes in the AHS structure could have massive ramifications to how patients are cared for.”

He also noted at this time, Alberta’s healthcare system is extremely fragile, and the many physicians are still unsure of the specifics of decentralizing.

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