Edmonton

Bill to force teens into treatment passed

Parents of teenagers addicted to drugs can make their children spend five days in a detox centre, after legislation was passed Thursday.

Parents of teenagers addicted to drugs can make their children spend five days in a detox centre, after legislation was passed Thursday.

The Protection of Children Abusing Drugs Act initially wanted to allow parents to be able to force their children into 90 days of treatment, but that was amended to five days in a detox centre.

Premier Ralph Klein said the bill hadn't been watered down.

"The kids themselves, those who have been subjected to addiction, feel that detox is the way to go," Klein said. "Get your head clear and then leave it up to the kid and the family and the medical officials to determine whether further treatment is required."

Red Deer North MLA Mary Anne Jablonski, who introduced the private member's bill, said the legislation will help many families.

"We get the child off the street or out of the drug house, into a safe place for them. We try to clear their heads for five days and we try to get them to see that they have a problem," she said.

She has said parents often hope their child will get arrested, so that some treatment can be mandated for them.

Audrey Bjornstad, whose son is a recovering meth addict, says the bill puts children first.

Parents will have to go before a judge to convince them that their child is addicted and needs help.

Klein said his government still has to deal with a shortage of beds in detox centres, and that they will monitor the situation for a year before deciding how many new beds are needed.

The private member's bill made history by being passed unanimously on a day when it wasn't scheduled to be debated. Private member's bills are usually only dealt with on Mondays, but all four parties in the legislature agreed to deal with it Thursday.

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