Pubdate: Sat, 24 Mar 2007
Source: Beacon Herald, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2007 Beacon Herald
Author: Donal O'Connor
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine - Canada)


Provincial funding totalling $1 million for the Perth County Meth 
Task Force should be forthcoming in about two weeks and the first 
thing will be to bring the members together to plan the pilot project 
intended for province-wide use. Mayor Dan Mathieson, co-chair of the 
task force, said he has already been in contact with the University 
of Waterloo regarding playing a role through its masters programs in 
social work and public health, and he expects they will help in 
completing some of the work. The funding was welcomed by the mayor 
and by task force co-chair Dr. Rosana Pellizzari, medical officer of 
health for Perth County. "It's saying to me that our work has not 
gone unnoticed   I think our work is paying off," said Dr. 
Pellizzari. Although there's still no provincewide strategy for 
dealing with crystal meth, she said, she is hopeful the task force 
here will be a leader and will assist the government in dealing with 
the problem. Her own involvement in the pilot project, however, will 
be limited as she'll be moving on to a new public health position in 
Toronto at the end of April when her duties here end. She said she 
hopes that her replacement as medical officer of health will fill the 
gap. Mayor Mathieson said he expects that by the beginning of May the 
task force will want to present its plan to the community and would 
then work through MPP John Wilkinson's office to eventually forward 
its work to the ministries of the Attorney General and Correctional 
Services. The $1 million for the task force announced Friday by Mr. 
Wilkinson is pegged for a one-year pilot project that will include 
educational awareness, treatment and enforcement pertaining to 
methamphetamine manufacture and use. The task force was established 
at the end of 2005 to combat a burgeoning meth problem in the county, 
evidenced by the discovery and dismantling of about 15 meth labs and 
several fires associated with making the illicit, highly addictive 
and dangerous drug. In announcing the funding, Mr. Wilkinson recalled 
that Perth County and Stratford had been given "a black eye" on the 
meth issue about a year ago. "We're going to figure out how to run 
that drug out of this county," he said. In an interview he credited 
Monte Kwinter, the minister of Community Safety and Correctional 
Services, and Finance Minister Greg Sorbara for supporting the 
project. "There's a method to my madness," said Mr. Wilkinson, in 
bringing so many cabinet ministers to town. Mr. Kwinter was impressed 
with the community support shown for combating the meth problem. The 
government is hoping a solution will come from the task force and 
from what's known about the problem in the county. In a press 
release, Dr. Pellizzari said Perth County has identified the major 
gaps and needs. "We have done our homework and we believe that any 
approach to substance use needs to include all four of Canada's 
national drug strategy pillars: prevention, treatment, enforcement 
and harm reduction." She said the funding could be used in a number 
of ways. Among them: * Set up prevention and treatment programs and 
good outpatient programs for those who want to kick the 
highly-addictive drug. * Figure out how to equip and train 
first-responders properly to deal with the labs and chemicals inside 
them. * Put in place a process to clean up the labs, the homes, land 
or farms after a bust. * Assess what can be done with the people - 
and often children - who are found living in the buildings where 
so-called cooks brew the toxic chemicals to make the drug. Since it 
began in late 2005, the task force has lobbied for a provincial 
strategy on crystal meth and has taken steps locally to address 
research and service gaps, she said. Thirty major stakeholders, 
including police, locally and provincially elected officials, the 
health care sector, schools and mental health agencies have been 
working on the meth problem.

- - With files from the London Free Press
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