Edmonton

Crystal meth report gathers dust

One year after a highly touted provincial task force on crystal meth tabled its report, none of the 83 recommendations it contained has been completed.

One year after a highly touted provincial task force on crystal meth tabled its report, none of the 83 recommendations it contained has been implemented.

For example, the task force report called for 100 new detox beds in the province. So far, eight have been created.

And that means an eight-week wait for Lynn Walker, who wants to send her 18-year-old daughter Lauren for treatment. The Sherwood Park mother was afraid Lauren couldn'twait that long.

"The kid has said I want help, so you're trying to do the best you can to keep her on an even keel until you get her into a treatment facility," Walker told CBC News. "Well, you know what? You can only do that for so long."

Walker, a single parent, ended up sending her daughter to a private clinic in B.C., at a cost of $30,000.

Experts say that crystal meth is one of the most addictive street drugs and one of the hardest addictions to treat. Addiction counsellors say its relapse rate —92 per cent — is worse than cocaine's.

"I'd like to be going further and faster on all of these areas, but it's not as easy to do as it is to say," said Alberta Health Minister Dave Hancock, admitting he can't point to a single recommendation that's been completed.

Hancock says the government is taking a broader approach to drug addictions and focusing more on prevention.

Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman says crystal meth fell off the government's radar and she blames the report's timing.

The crystal meth task force was chaired by Colleen Klein, the wife of former premier Ralph Klein. A day after the report was tabled, Klein announced he was retiring from politics.

"You check back a year later and gosh, it wasn't actually funded and nothing happened," said Blakeman, who represents Edmonton-Centre. "And so have we helped our kids, our young people here? No."

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