Pubdate: Thu, 01 Feb 2018
Source: Metro (Edmonton, CN AB)
Copyright: 2018 Metro Canada
Author: Kevin Maimann
Page: 1


Group to ask about opioid crisis at town hall

Edmontonians will line up at MacEwan University on Thursday in hopes
of getting face time with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Moms Stop the Harm, a group of parents who have lost children to drug
overdoses, plans to have 10 to 15 members at the town hall to
challenge the PM on the opioid crisis.

"It's very upsetting for us how silent he has been on this issue,"
said group member Petra Schulz. "There are thousands of Canadian
families like ours that are mourning the loss of a loved one, and the
prime minister has not even spoken on the issue in the house."

Schulz wants to see a significant funding investment from the federal
government akin to other health crises, like the 2009 H1N1 flu scare
or the AIDS crisis of the 1980s.

"We need leadership from the federal government," she said. "What's
happening in provinces is a patchwork."

Her group is also calling on the government to decriminalize personal
possession of these substances, so people who use opioids can have an
easier time getting treatment instead of ending up in the justice system.

Local activist Bashir Mohamed hopes to ask what the federal government
is doing to address anti-Black racism.

Trudeau announced in Ottawa Tuesday that Canada would recognize the
United Nations' International Decade for People of African Descent,
but Mohamed said he would like to know what the government's specific
plans are to combat, or at least research, the problem.

"There is this myth in Canada that we either don't have this problem
or we don't have a history of this problem existing," Mohamed said.
"The first step of solving a problem is by recognizing that there is
one. And for these communities, it's extremely serious." Mohamed
pointed to Toronto research showing Black people without a criminal
record are three times more likely to be charged with marijuana
convictions than white people, and Black children account for half the
students expelled from schools.

Reports on police carding in several cities have also shown Black
Canadians are disproportionately affected. However, national
statistics on these issues simply don't exist.

"There's no real national research when it comes down to understanding
this problem, or in general anything that really has to do with racism
and discrimination in Canada," Mohamed said.

Doors open at 5 p.m. and the town hall will start at 7 p.m. in the
university's David Atkinson Gymnasium.
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MAP posted-by: Matt