International Harm Reduction Day – 7 May

A Press Release issued today by the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge (HKPR) District Health Unit on behalf of the HKLN Drug Strategy (Haliburton, Kawartha Lakes, Northumberland Drug Strategy) says that they recognize May 7 as “International Harm Reduction Day”.  The group called HKLN Drug Strategy promotes “evidence-based policies, practices and programs to reduce the social, legal and health-related harms associated with substance use”. They work towards “the reduction of the stigma associated with substance use” and “reducing substance use-related harms to individuals and communities, without discontinuing substance use itself.”  But with a focus on drug users, there seems to be no concern for people hurt by the behaviour of drug users – for example friends and family members or victims of their misbehaviour.

It seems that the (HKPR) District Health Unit is one of “over 50 organizations and/or departments across the three counties working directly or indirectly in social services and healthcare.”  The HKLN Drug Strategy web site says that “current members include the Health Unit, police forces, fire departments, EMS, treatment services, pharmacists, non-profit groups, mental health groups, youth services, social services and family health teams. Membership is open to any interested person, group, or agency in the Haliburton, Kawartha Lakes, Northumberland region that supports the vision, guiding principles, and objectives of the HKLN Drug Strategy.”

It repeatedly states that they are “evidence based” but does not mention recent reversals of programs such as in BC.

The HKLN Web site talks about “evidence based” but has no documents or links to documents with this evidence.

But the main reason for the Press Release was to publicise a “related event taking place this week”:

Thursday, May 9, 2024 from 11-12 pm: Free Virtual Presentation by Dr. Sandra McNeil on Recovery, Identity, Resistance: Substance Use Recovery and Stigma in Rural Areas. This free 1-hour virtual event strives to:

  • Disrupt our assumptions about substance use.
  • Complicate current understandings of recovery.
  • Promote social inclusion to eliminate stigma and discrimination.

Contact Amanda Duncombe-Lee at [email protected]  with your name, contact details and occupation to register.

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Rational
11 days ago

Below is an article from Rebel News dated May 8, 2024, focusing on “cozy ties”.

https://www.rebelnews.com/cobourg_encampment_faces_community_scrutiny_from_the_strain_on_emergency_resources_to_cozy_ties_between_advocates_and_local_officials

If this article is correct is it why no action has been taken to shut down the Encampment. This is very confusing. It would be nice if theMayor would address the public.

Ben
Reply to  Rational
10 days ago

Can’t be bothered to layout my opinions on this piece from the home of the Menzoid and Ezra Levant. The Board would be retching after the first paragraph – don’t want to spoil your weekend!

Linda Mackenzie-Nicholas
11 days ago

I am very pleased to see the HKPR unit speak up about harm reduction . I feel the only way we are going to develop a plan that works is to learn what can, listen to each other and likely also by trial and error . Thanks John for sharing this info.

Kevin
Reply to  Linda Mackenzie-Nicholas
10 days ago

Linda, do you really want to use trial and error to help solve this problem? Like DEI training was supposed to solve the problem of toxic white men, or whatever it was supposed to do? Cobourg hired somebody to deal with the problem, that was the trial part. The error now seems that DEI training makes the situation worse. How about the 3 year pilot program in BC? It is not working so the decisions are being reversed. What trial do you want to try?

Listening to each other is good to help understand what other people are thinking. In itself listening will not really change anything. People who support the homeless have their reasons for offering services, which may include not wanting people to suffer. But offering some services enables the behaviours of the addicts and causes suffering of other citizens. That is clearly the opinion of many of the people who comment on this blog. Have you listened to them?

Yes, by all means we should learn what can work and do that. If harm reduction actually works there should be a clear definition of what it is. Do you have one? Some people have used Finland’s housing first approach as an example of what works. In Finland drug rehab is part of the program. So lets do that, good idea Linda. A long article:
Housing First: Combatting Long-Term Homelessness in Finland | Successful Public Policy in the Nordic Countries: Cases, Lessons, Challenges | Oxford Academic (oup.com)
This is not an easy problem to solve, it is going to take lots of work from lots of different groups. At the moment Cobourg is very divided. What we need are people who can work together. Unfortunately there is too much blame going around which just causes hostilities between different groups and is not helping to solve the problem.

I think we agree that JD is doing a good job of sharing info.

Ben
Reply to  Kevin
10 days ago

Housing First has failed in North America, especially in NYC because the housing component was used without the rest of the programmes involved. As you say implement the full programme like Finland has and then see the results.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Ben
10 days ago

Ben, Finland has the highest tax rates in the OECD. For an average married worker with two children taxes were 39.8% in 2023 in Finland, (The OECD average was 25.7%.) Are you seriously suggesting that we should have the same high taxes in order to provide housing for addicts and others? Finland is not a good example to copy!

Ben
Reply to  Ken Strauss
10 days ago

Of course it is not if you are a pennypincher who does not want to pay taxes for any reasons, but to cure the problems of a caring society always costs money. Finland is a great example because they have a proven solution. Unfortunately it costs money which you and many others are not willing to pay for.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Ben
10 days ago

I suspect that rather few Canadians would be willing to double (or even to increase by a little) their tax bill in order to house those addicted to illegal drugs.

Catherine
Reply to  Ben
10 days ago

We don’t need to increase taxes in order to find the money. We just need to cut a bunch of inflated salaries at the top (that are keeping this program going in order to keep these inflated salaries). Finland also expects addicts to have some buy in. You don’t just get an apartment without doing the work. You may be given a roof over your head (like a shelter), but in order to get your own apartment you need to be working on getting clean, getting a job, etc. that’s the key reason why it’s more successful.

Rational
11 days ago

The actions of the Health Department not only embolden the drug addicts and encampment residents but those actions seem to support the enablers ( I guess based on this video) .. notice the fist signal of strength to someone just before she confronts Pete Fisher.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgDglA3uh6Q

To me this just provides another reason why this encampment an its supporters need to go as they are not contributing to the well being of Cobourg

Last edited 11 days ago by Rational
Dave
Reply to  Rational
11 days ago

Something going on with the blog – watched your video then tried to up vote you – came back as I had already voted and disallowed the up vote. So it may stay as 0 despite people enthusiastically giving you and upvote for providing the actions of a person totally in the wrong with a smarmy, entitled attitude that deserves jail for her assault and disrespect. Thinks she a hero. NOT!

Concerned Taxpayer
12 days ago

Permanent supportive housing has been found to be cost efficient. Providing access to housing generally results in cost savings for communities because housed people are less likely to use emergency services, including hospitals, jails, and emergency shelter, than those who are homeless.

Kevin
Reply to  Concerned Taxpayer
11 days ago

Do you have a source to support this opinion? Many of the people who started living in the encampment did have housing which was boarded up for health and safety reasons. Perhaps the housing they had did not have enough support. What is really needed is the will to get off drugs and programs to help. I just read a story about a young mother who has been clean for 6 years because of her children. She made the choice to get clean instead of killing herself. Maybe what we need first in more addiction treatment. Then the addicts, with proper support, might be able to live in housing without destroying it.

Catherine
Reply to  Concerned Taxpayer
11 days ago

I think this is an ok solution but needs to be staffed with rules in place, and small homes spread out with no visitors allowed (to prevent all 48 at one place). These are not safe people so can’t be unattended near children. My son was threatened while riding his bike the other day (he’s 10).

LivesinCobourg
12 days ago

Here is an idea, STOP TRYING TO NORMALIZE DRUG ABUSE!

Lemon Cake
12 days ago

A great way to reduce stigma would be for drug users to stop shooting up/using in public (bus shelters, park, street corners). That’s pretty stigmatizing. In fact, places like downtown Cobourg and entire downtown areas in cities like Oshawa, Edmonton, Vancouver are now overrun with drug addicts and are in themselves stigmatized areas. Harm reduction for who?

Cobourg taxpayer
12 days ago

Oh please the best way to reduce harm is to get people off illegal drugs. You would think seeing the socially abhorrent behaviour that results would be enough to stop people from starting to use drugs and to inform the experts that addicts have to get clean if they want to live a normal healthy life. How is the drug addicted life anything to aspire to???

Linda Mackenzie-Nicholas
Reply to  Cobourg taxpayer
11 days ago

It is a good question you ask, if we didn’t know before- we certainly know now- stigmatizing people resolves very little

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Linda Mackenzie-Nicholas
11 days ago

Stigma has been effective in reducing cigarette smoking. Why not to reduce drug consumption?

Mark Mills
13 days ago

I assume harm reduction includes the reduction of harm done to the community at large. Reduce illegal drug use , theft , assaults , loitering, illegal encampments, etc etc etc!!! OR IS THAT TO MUCH TO ASK????

I heard Doug Ford say the university encampments need too go. DOUGIE…how about encampments on our provincially owed lands ???? Again, why is our local MPP not saying the same of our local encampment issues????

Last edited 13 days ago by Mark Mills
M Lewis
Reply to  Mark Mills
12 days ago

This world and town have all gone nuts. This was all tolerated here too, as has been reported on YouTube during the festivities in June. Our tax dollars are going to all this and worse. And it will be coming back around soon, long before anything is ever done about the encampment eyesore. Shows where our priorities are at these days, and what needs changing…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lP9IYWxbaas

Kevin
Reply to  Mark Mills
12 days ago

Mark Mills, the only valid assumption about harm reduction is somebody is making money from it. Follow the money if you want to really understand. Most likely you will find there is no clear definition nor research behind what harm reduction actually is. There will be some general ideas and people will question your motives for looking into it. Why do you want to harm the poor addicts? You could end up homeless just like them, wouldn’t you want help? There are people who really do support it. Either they have been mislead or it is too difficult for them to speak the truth. It certainly is this way in education. It is extremely rare to talk to a teacher who agrees with what comes down from the top. Every few years there are changes to the curriculum because research shows there is a new breakthrough in teaching methodologies. In reality there is nothing new but some people have good government jobs promoting it. With the issue of drugs, there are people making a living promoting drug use, or at least normalizing it. There is much harm in doing so. Schools have paid guest speakers to talk about how drugs ruined their lives. One particular ex-NFL player explained how he and his friends would pool their money to buy a joint to share. This led to selling their things to buy drugs, then other people’s things. Eventually he made it to the NFL, had lots of money, could buy harder drugs and lost his sports career because of the drugs.

M Lewis commented this town and world have gone nuts. Tax dollars are being spent on it crazy ideas. In part I agree but the have gone nuts parts could imply something recent. I don’t know enough about history to know how far back it goes but there are lots of examples of people following leaders and doing terrible things. World War II, the Russian Revolution, etc. People have to decide if they want to stand up and speak the truth or drink the Kool-Aid.

Legal disclaimer: It wasn’t actually Kool-Aid the poison was added to. This is my opinion as I have not tried to find the real definition of harm reduction. Although, to support my opinion, I just did a quick search and found this:
Harm reduction in name, but not substance: a comparative analysis of current Canadian provincial and territorial policy frameworks | Harm Reduction Journal | Full Text (biomedcentral.com)

Concerned Taxpayer
13 days ago

The Town of Cobourg needs to pass an ordinance to ban outside sleeping. The policy applied in Finland is called “HousingFirst”. It reverses conventional homeless aid. More commonly, those affected are expected to look for a job and free themselves from their psychological problems or addictions. Only then they get help in finding accommodation.

Cobourg taxpayer
Reply to  Concerned Taxpayer
12 days ago

The town by law 85-2003 section 5.19 says you may NOT live in a tent. The law is there..

Rational
13 days ago

The spin of the release by HKPR District Health Unit, in my opinion, only emboldens the Encampment Residents and Enablers to expand their terror and crime.

They know Cobourg Enforcement, coupled with Local and Provincial authorities, have distanced themselves from both the Brookside illegal encampment and downtown drug/crime scene.

Today, driving by the Encampment there are say 8 or so more tents than last week and closer to the sidewalk. Also a professional printed sign in on display saying “Right to Protest”. Two days ago, at Division and King, at 8:00am were two shopping carts filled well above the cart with sleeping bags and bedding. So … new residents arriving?

Mr. Mayor please stop with the fancy words and take action. Cobourg is in a mess and is being ruined under your watch.

Rob
Reply to  Rational
13 days ago

Very interesting how the professional marketeers have changed the narrative. Make no mistake this is a coordinated effort. I suspect this is getting a boost on the coattails of the Pro-Palestine cosplay campus protests which are clearly backed by professionals organizers and protesters. The illegal encampers appear to be in the process of being reinvented, from actually being homeless drug users, into a protesters – perhaps the group could garner more community support without the drugs, crime, fires, violence, entitlement and stolen shopping carts.

Rational
Reply to  Rational
13 days ago

A update correction to the sign. I initially said Right to Protest but it is People Not Problems. I apologize for mis quoting earlier.

Cindi
Reply to  Rational
8 days ago

Not the Mayor’s fault, he can’t act as it’s provincial land. I believe the Chief said that when 310 opens they will be offered shelter. If they refuse, then they can evict them.

Matt
13 days ago

There is supposed to be a stigma attached to hard drug-use. Even amongst drug-users, there has always been a stigma attached to hard drug- use. Crossing over that very defined line wasn’t a decision to be taken lightly and everybody knew it.

Normalization of this behaviour, through well-intentioned, (mostly–some of it is self-serving virtue-signalling), but misguided attempts to “reduce harm” blur that line and will only make this worse.

If you really want to reduce the harm, then all resources should be put into giving young people as much solid, true information about drugs as we can–and not the same old “Just Say No”, “D.A.R.E”, “All-drugs-are-equally-dangerous” nonsense, that just led kids to believe that the real, cautionary facts were just more manipulative BS.

Maybe then, more young people will give a little more thought to it before going down the hard-drug road as cavalierly and, frankly…stupidly as so many presently are.

Sandpiper
Reply to  Matt
13 days ago

There is stigma attached to Smokers , Drinkers Drugs Handi capped
Walking out of a Marijuana shop in Cobourg
but you can meet all your Neighbours and Politicians at the Green Mile just 15 mins up the road
and its a Trendy OK thing not to mention the cheap gas excuse

Rob
Reply to  Sandpiper
13 days ago

Perhaps behaviour that runs counter to being a healthy, productive, contributing member of society, committing crimes or being a detriment to children, families, friends and communities, should be stigmatized to some degree and not normalized, accepted, emboldened and enabled.

Maybe we should strongly dissuade at the risk of offending some…

Matt
Reply to  Sandpiper
13 days ago

With all due respect, if you think legal marijuana is even part of this problem, you really don’t understand this problem.

New to town
Reply to  Matt
10 days ago

The legalization of marijuana by the federal government is part of this problem because it is consistent with the inconsistent application of the law that we currently experience, which is the root of many of the issues we are facing in communities today. We are over-regulated while our regulations are under-enforced. Alcohol and liquor are regulated provincially, while marijuana is regulated federally and is administered in a completely different way creating massive inconsistencies in how regulated substances are distributed. Consider that in one corner, you can buy a multitude of cannabis products, from smoke to edibles, including candy, but flavoured vape products are being outlawed. The inconsistent application of the law is the equivalent of bad parenting.

Sonya
Reply to  Matt
13 days ago

I agree. Show the kids the pictures of drug users with their teeth rotted out of their mouths and the big infected sores all over their bodies.now amputated limbs . Drug users bent over like candy canes with their pants hanging down. Show them the stinky dirty crack houses they live with.
It might save their lives. Don’t candy coat it. Stigmatize it full on.

Bill Thompson
Reply to  Matt
12 days ago

“Normalization” originated in Ottawa with the legalizing of marijuana
It opened the door to youths (and others)in ever increasing numbers experimenting with even more serious life destroying drugs.
Until the drug trade/ drug dealers are halted with severe penalties ,this disaster will just increase and ruin the country.

JimT
Reply to  Bill Thompson
10 days ago

Can you offer us any proof that “the legalizing of marijuana…opened the door to youths (and others)in ever increasing numbers experimenting with even more serious life destroying drugs.”?

My understanding is that it just made an already existing practice legal.

Sonya
13 days ago

This is more a federal directive to get transfer money for health care, health units. Health units have to promote federal policies which include harm reduction strategies and destigmatizing drug addicts. It’s such a ridiculous waste of money and it’s making this drug crisis much worse. You have addicts selling their safe supply to our kids!!! It’s a vicious circle. Big drug bust in Peterborough last week found 5000 safe supply pills that would of been headed right for our kids. They’re passed off as “safe” drugs. They’re government funded highly addictive opioid drugs. This is insane and needs to be stopped.

Bill Thompson
13 days ago

Drug strategy …arrest / identify the source/drug dealers.
Make drug dealing a major crime.not a catch and release and drug use breaking the law ..full stop.
Mandatory treatment for drug users.
The tail is wagging the dog in today’s society.and destroying it.

Last edited 13 days ago by Bill Thompson
Sandpiper
Reply to  Bill Thompson
13 days ago

Not to mention the Police need to take down the Buyers or Fencing operators that buy stolen goods with no questions asked from these Homeless and Drug users These people are perpetuating and rewarding
thieves and supporting the drug habits
These homeless etc don’t have cars but they will take your Hub caps , and anything else of value

Sandpiper
13 days ago

I do not believe the Health Dept has a solution here or want to make or take any hardline future direction on this matter and until they do they are Just grasping at Straws . Trying to make themselves look viable and productive when nothing they have done has worked so far .and they are clearly not working hand in hand with the Police etc

SOOOO— Why don’t we simply stop throwing Money at a Loosing battle and Stop saving these people bent and determined on —Harming Them Selves —-and the community around them . Hard Times require Hard decisions or Actions
Sooner or latter with out all this attention and press they are receiving the Trendy Idea of Addiction and Substance abuse will literally Die OFF as will the Drug users . ORRRRR they them selves can choose to be saved and seek treatment
We & the Health department etc want to assume these people are adults then let them prove it .

Merle Gingrich
Reply to  Sandpiper
13 days ago

Excellent analysis, and maybe that’s why we have a shortage of healthcare services and dollars. The CPC finally got the Liberal party, many JT to drop the decriminalization policy in BC.

Kevin
13 days ago

This all reminds me of big tobacco companies advertising ‘mild’ and ‘light’ cigarettes. The government ran ads making fun of it with things like ‘arsenic light’ meaning there is no safe amount of arsenic. Health departments were on the side of quitting the use of tobacco for health reasons. There were no ‘supervised smoking areas’ to reduce harm. Nobody was trying to reduce the stigma of smoking. The message was clear, smoking is bad, stop.

Now health departments are almost promoting hard drug use. The HKLN Drug Strategy website does mention prevention of drug use but that needs more attention. Reduction of stigma is counterproductive. Promote the stigma as a method to get people to stop using drugs. Many of the same buzz words used in education are on the HKLN website. Things like ‘evidence based’ which implies research but in reality means nothing.

When like minded people get hold of an organization they take over. These toxic people will want taxpayer funded ‘safe drugs’ to replace the ‘toxic street drugs’ in Ontario. This was tried in BC, failed and now even the federal government is allowing BC to reverse some of the decisions. Never, that I know of, did government provide ‘safe cigarettes’. There is no safe amount of fentanyl or crack.

Dave
13 days ago

If Health Departments everywhere really wanted to make a difference in saving people they would be pressing the Federal Government to open drug rehab centres on a much needed nation wide basis ensuring there were treatment centres to treat the addicted. For some it is too late, they have lost their mental faculties and need to be in hospital live in supervised settings unable to manage their life, a danger to themselves and others. They should be working hand in hand with the court system to ensure people reluctant to take rehab as drug treatment is not desired by many of the addicted that they are headed into these programs with some especially designed for people refusing help.

Ken Strauss
14 days ago

So our taxpayer funded health unit thinks that the solution for our addiction crisis is “the reduction of the stigma associated with substance use”. What are the HKPR folks smoking?

Andre
Reply to  Ken Strauss
13 days ago

Stigma is an off-target middle class concept. The rich can afford not to care and the poor can’t afford to care. “Stigma” is the addiction crisis cop-out word du jour, raining down from the highest levels of government. Harm perpetuation is the clear strategy.

Liz
Reply to  Ken Strauss
13 days ago

HKLN….take the government funding and put it into rehab. You will not save everyone, but many on drugs will thank you when cured!

Pete M
14 days ago

HKLN drug strategy “, …without discontinuing substance use itself”

HKLN we have a drug crisis in Cobourg. People are dying. Families are being torn apart and broken by the fentanyl poison that flows through this community.

HKLN ‘s goal should be to get people off this poison, not risk management the problem.

This appears to be a black hole for government money with no real means to measure if the ” strategy” is being successful.

But it does create jobs for those responsible to deliver and manage it.

And we do get another day on the virtue signaling calendar.

And for those curious as to what May 8 is?

Each year on May 8th, millions of people across the country celebrate National Have a Coke Day.

Yes the soda but brookside probably more likely the powder.

If we want to celebrate, then lets try to rid ourselves harmful opioids, rather than saying we just have to live with it and risk manage it.