Nenshi: 'Evidence absolutely crystal clear' on safe consumption sites
Calgary mayor says Canada's civic leaders united in support of sites to combat opioid crisis, fentanyl
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi says he's torn, but the "evidence is absolutely crystal clear" that supervised consumption sites save lives, and need to be part of a discussion to create a national strategy around the opioid crisis.
He shared his thoughts on Cross Country Checkup on Sunday, while last month the Big City Mayors Caucus' opioid task force issued its four-pillar recommendations to handle the crisis. It includes harm reduction, treatment, prevention and enforcement.
This week we're bringing back a topic we said we'd cover: the opioid crisis. Is the country doing enough? <a href="https://t.co/a6WijJQKJ7">https://t.co/a6WijJQKJ7</a> <a href="https://t.co/SmNRH5dBTC">pic.twitter.com/SmNRH5dBTC</a>—@checkupcbc
"I can see that it does harm. I can see that it's very difficult for communities, but the evidence is absolutely crystal clear that it saves lives," said Nenshi.
Speaking about safe consumption sites, Nenshi says grappling with the insurgence of fentanyl in Calgary creates a very different conversation than the discussion around Vancouver's Insite location.
"[In Calgary] less than 15 per cent of the deaths by overdose happen downtown. They are happening in every neighbourhood in the city," said Nenshi. "This particular public health crisis is one that really is hitting families and communities everywhere, every income level and every background."
He says collecting more data would help Canada's larger cities deal with the crisis.
"We have to save lives. That has to be our number one job," he said. "Not only do we need to help people stay alive, we also have to help them stay better and that's why we need this national integrated strategy."
In 2016, 149 people died of fentanyl-related overdoses in Calgary. Across the province, 343 people lost their lives to the drug last year.
With files from Cross Country Checkup