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