January 15, 2008
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
In recent news, the Ontario government has managed to save the popular crack pipe program that the city of Ottawa refused to support. Our Mayor, Larry O’Brien cancelled the program back in July 2007. As of yesterday, news has leaked that the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care will provide $287,000.00 in funding over the next year to the Somerset West Community Health Centre to manage the controversial program.
Many of those who supported the motion to cancel the program may be furious with the province’s overturn; however from the news articles that I’ve read it appears as though the province has always been the main source of funding, while the city only topped up with a small portion of $7,500.00 a year.
The crack pipe program is said to be an essential part of an integrated drug strategy, along with enforcement, treatment and prevention according Jack McCarthy, director of Ottawa’s Somerset West Community Health Centre.
Although, I’m not fully convinced that this “harm-reduction” approach is entirely necessary, at least to the degree of funding awarded, I am open minded about it and not afraid to admit that I am not fully aware of the statistics. On the surface, to the taxpayer, it appears that this program is an unnecessary waste of money. However, the taxpayer may not realize the savings to be had in health care costs to treat diseases, such as Hepatitis C and AIDS, as well as the enormous relief of strain on health services.
Despite some of the more positive aspects, one cannot deny the fact that this program promotes drug use. It gives the impression that this type of behaviour is accepted as normal within our society. Money might be better spent on programs that serve to prevent and treat addiction. It seems that this city and many other cities lack the funding in these areas.
Besides, I’m not sure how partial I am to the image of a city littered with used crack pipes. I’m certainly more interested in helping addicts on their road to recovery.
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