Skip to main content

Federal Minister says 'people will die' if drug treatment is only option

Canada’s Minister of Mental health and Addictions said lives are at stake if drug addiction treatment and harm reduction measures cease to coexist.

“These are real people, these are people with real families and friends,” stated Carolyn Bennett.

The minister, speaking at a federal budget funding announcement at Western University on Friday, said political attacks on harm reduction need to stop.

“To have this false debate between treatment and harm reduction, we need both. Demonizing harm reduction, we cannot let it take root, because people will die.”

Sonja Burke, the director of newly opened Carepoint safe-consumption site in downtown London was moved by the minster’s plea.

Her organization offers multiple harm reduction options for those battling addictions including the York Street safe injection site.

“I was actually speechless to hear someone [Bennett) so passionate about harm reduction and knowledgeable and understanding that nothing is going to change until we open our minds.”

To the point, the minster revealed a trio of minds has created a new tool to aid 11 safe consumption sites across Canada.Ari Forman (left) and Alex Boukin of SCATR Inc are joined by Francois Legugne -Labarhet of Western University. Together they have created a device which can scan street drugs to determine their composition. April 14, 2023. (Sean Irvine/CTV Nes London)

Created by a Western researcher and the start-up firm SCATR Inc., the unit can conclusively determine what is in a drug before it’s consumed.

“So the person might think it is crystal meth and it’s actually laced with fentanyl,” commented Burke who is thrilled to have one unit at Carepoint.

Nearly $2-million ($1.9-million) will be given by the Liberal Government to help deploy the units to 10 other safe consumption sites across Ontario, Nova Scotia and B.C.

Ari Foreman, a co-founder of SCATR, hopes the spread of his device leads to fewer drug related deaths.

“There is probably nothing more valuable to us than saving lives. So we realized the value of it really early on,” he shared with CTV London. Top Stories

Stay Connected