FHA Should Take Whatever Steps Necessary To Save Lives

By February 6, 2013Hot Topic, Mike Archer

By Mike Archer. Mayor Bruce Banman is wrong. The Fraser Health Authority (FHA) is right. The time for threats has arrived.

The little political games being played by Banman and Councillor Simon Gibson over how health care is provided in Abbotsford have got to stop.

Neither one of them is a doctor, a member of the Provincial Ministry of Health nor a member of the Federal Ministry of Health. These are the only people with any legitimate or legal jurisdiction over whose lives get saved in Abbotsford and how.

By turning this into a local political issue, as if the City of Abbotsford had any legal authority to act on matters of healthcare, was a serious mistake and Banman should apologize to those people whose lives are in danger for ever having tried.

This is not, and never was, about using all available methods of reaching out to addicts. This is about the curiously named Anti Harm Reduction bylaw we have which takes away the medical option of keeping addicts alive with clean needles long enough for the other methods to be given a chance to work.

Virtually every professional who treats addicts agrees – a multi-pronged approach is necessary. What works for one does not necessarily work for others. That is why, in every other city in BC abstinence, detox, faith, cold turkey abrupt cessation … all have their place in the treatment of addiction.

Forcing addicts to use dirty needles is just cruel.

Nor is this an appropriate issue over which to be negotiating with the FHA or offering tit-for-tat political treats. This is a matter of life and death.

To pretend that a municipality even has the legal authority to do such a thing is simply dishonest. The organization which has been putting this community through this ordeal is Abbotsford Council … not the FHA.

The staff at the FHA are just trying to do their legally mandated job.

Gibson should be censured for even attempting to interfere with the constitutionally guaranteed rights of Abbotsford residents to the same level of health care as any other Canadian.

Let’s be clear … if you live anywhere else in BC your life can be saved by your local health authority. In Abbotsford … you’re not so lucky.

The FHA has the legal authority, the legal right and the legal mandate to save the lives of Abbotsford residents whether they be addicts, drunks, homeless, church-going, atheist or even politicians.

Neither Bruce Banman, Simon Gibson, nor any other municipal politician or official has the legal or the moral right to stand in their way.

To be playing political football with such an issue on behalf of the taxpayers and citizens of Abbotsford is an insult to the offices they hold and to the people they represent.

People’s lives hang in the balance here and every political twist and turn this sordid part of our history takes with ill-informed councillors taking stands on issues in which they have no say makes things worse.

There is no defence for this ultra vires and prejudicial bylaw and when the legal bills come in we should all remember who caused us to have to pay them.

The time for co-operation is over and done. Fraser Health should take whatever steps necessary to save the lives of Abbotsford citizens with or without the permission of the City of Abbotsford, its mayor or any of its misguided councillors.

Cover Photo from: narconon.ca

Join the discussion 8 Comments

  • Jim says:

    I’m pretty sure the mayor is a doctor, not that I agree with him.

  • MittMartin says:

    Do spinal adjustments help with heroin addiction? If so I know a guy.

  • Sobe says:

    Reading Jim’s comment, I was interested to learn if a Chiropractor has to take the hippocratic oath. Well it turns out they do have one and it goes something like this:

    I do hereby swear before God and these assembled witnesses, both corporeal and spiritual, that I will do my utmost to keep this, my sacred, trusted oath, as a graduate of the (insert college name here), that henceforth: I will esteem those who have taught me this Art, Science and Philosophy of Chiropractic and with this torch of knowledge, fashioned by Hippocrates, I will light the way to the understanding of those Natural Laws which preserve the human body as a fitting temple for the soul of man.
    I will keep the physical, mental and spiritual needs of the sick as my foremost duty, ever searching for and correcting the cause of their disease to the best of my ability, insofar as my science is in the highest precepts of my Alma Mater and harmonious with the Vis Medicatrix Naturae.
    I will at all times stand ready to serve my fellow man, without distinction of race, creed or colour, in my lifelong vocation of preventing and alleviating human suffering, wherever it may be found, by exemplifying in my own life a pattern of living in harmony with the Laws of Nature.
    I will refrain from any act of wrongdoing and will regard the keeping of a patient’s confidence as a moral obligation, using any such information only in his or her best interests. May God so direct the skillful use of my hands that I may bring strength to the sick, relief to the suffering, peace of mind to the anxious and the inspiration to mankind to attain bountiful health
    that we may live this life to the fullest expression of its innate endowments. I therefore, solemnly swear to uphold these principles and precepts to the best of my ability, so help me God.

    Wait a second. Something does not add up. Maybe he gave up being a Chiropractor and maybe he is now “just mayor”. Hmmm. That would explain the overblown ego and the attempt to deny addicts tools that may lead to sobriety.

  • Meghann Coughlan says:

    In my opinion, Banman is a dolt. He’s the George Bush of Abbotsford city council…. the boob that veteran council members use as the poster boy for bad decisions. Don’t believe me? Let’s try and get him to eat a pretzel and see what happens.

    I have zero respect for this human being – and before someone mentions my losing, it truly has nothing to do with that. After likening addicts to pedophiles I have lost all faith in his ability to do anything other than dress like a clown in our parades or the grinch at christmas.

    We shouldn’t be shocked that a man who promised to donate his raise to charity and stay true to his old pick up, (neither of which have happened. He’s kept the raise and used his car allowance to purchase a mustang), has zero integrity or compassion.

    He’s an angry little man who is more concerned about his new role in the old boys club than the people he promised to consider. It’s sickening.

  • Mary says:

    FHA and again in this article it is stated that every city in BC has harm reduction models existing and practicing. I find this an interesting statement as I work in Langley and see addicts on the street every day and am not aware a needle exchange, safe injection site or a plethora of other harm reduction methods available. In fact if one goes to the FHA website needle exchange does not come up in Langley or many other cities where FHA has jurisdiction, or in BC. When glib and passing statements like this are made, confidence in the message is called into serious doubt, including the need and success of these programs.

    What is intriguing to me is the push for harm reduction at the same time as FHA is gifting property to the YMCA, at the same time that Karen Matty is a member of the FHA board, at the same time her adjacent property stands to benefit from the Y….hmm is it possible there is a connection?

  • The Editor says:

    Thanks for your comment Mary,
    You raise an important point but I’m afraid you’ve misread the column. No one is arguing that every city in BC has an existing and practicing harm reduction model or needle exchange.

    Citizens have the right to those services in every other city in BC because no other city has stepped in between health authorities and citizens to tell the health authorities what they can and cannot do.

    The City of Abbotsford, just like any other city in Canada, has no jurisdiction or authority to interfere with the delivery of health services to Canadian citizens.


  • Mary says:

    Thanks Mike,
    I do believe that, not that many years ago New Westminster had just such a bylaw, but can’t say if it still exists. What is puzzling, to me, why not go to where the cities have not taken this step, when there are so many cities that do not have these services? Clearly addicts exist everywhere not just in Abbotsford. Why focus on a city that has made it clear it does not have confidence in the process or the results.

    From what I can see there is more to this than meets the eye or is being disclosed.

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