Last week, I attended the NDP-hosted forum on acutely intoxicated persons.
The Beaton-Allen Report was summarized by the authors to a standing-room-only crowd of citizens, people who work with those at risk, doctors, nurses and survivors themselves.
I was pleased to see members of the Yukon NDP and Liberal parties in attendance as well, ensuring they understood the complexities of the situation.
It was made quite clear to all present that the Yukon Party government’s choice of having a secure lockdown facility at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre was the wrong way to treat those suffering from the disease of addiction. Even the simple fact of the location, in regards to the Salvation Army Shelter where many of them live, was ignored by the government.
What happens once those arrested are released in the morning in an area of no shelter?
They will make their way, as best they can, through Takhini and Range Road, back downtown, with many places along the way that could be considered dangerous for those already marginalized.
I was dismayed that not one member of the Yukon Party government or senior bureaucratic staff was found to be in attendance.
This is quite unfortunate as there was much positive discussion on the report, and an opportunity to interact with those on the front line of this issue.
I was hoping at least one of the leadership candidates from the Yukon Party leadership race would have the foresight to attend to further understand this most important issue, but, alas, this was not to be.
With so many of our health-care and justice dollars committed to reactive approaches instead of harm reduction, one would think that a fiscally conservative government would want to fully engage in this issue any chance it had.
It’s examples such as these, the lack of commitment by Yukon Party government members and leadership hopefuls, that indicate to me there is, in the end, little choice in the selection of a new leader.
Today, the Yukon Party is the same organization, turning a blind eye towards the human suffering of alcoholism, while allowing the real and social costs to escalate, affecting us all.