Harm reduction has been an issue discussed many times at city council and Regina police meetings over the last few years.
And while there has been talk, for many people in the community they feel there needs to be more action.
The topic was at the centre of all discussion Thursday night at the 2022 Board of Police Commissioners Community Information Night.
Questions about what the city’s goals for increasing harm reduction would look like and how they would provide more support for mental health in Regina were thrown at both Chief of Police Evan Bray and City of Regina Mayor Sandra Masters.
Early data from the Saskatchewan coroners service shows overdose numbers continue to climb in 2022, after record numbers over the last two years.
“The overdose problem is absolutely present and an issue in the city of Regina,” Bray said. “We know that harm reduction is an interim fix to saving lives while long-term solutions are being looked for.”
Community members were able to voice their opinion on the issue and many offered suggestions on possible solutions. Some included more drug support centres with doors open 24/7, while others suggested having more centres that are easily accessible for people who don’t have any means to get there.
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“The idea of perhaps mobile services to come and meet people were they’re at is another kind of intriguing idea,” Masters said.
Shylo Stevenson, a support executive for the Warriors of Hope community support team, believes the city has gone backwards in supports, especially for the city’s homeless population.
“We are in a more dire state right now than we were last year,” Stevenson said. “The resources we had last year with the 24-hour warming centre and other agencies being able to provide stuff we don’t have this year.”
As the need for mental health supports has grown, people in attendance were curious about a potential expansion to the police and crisis team. The team is a joint effort between Regina police and the Saskatchewan Health Authority, which is meant to better address situations where someone could be in a mental health crisis.
Regina currently has two teams, but Bray says another could be joining the front line.
“We have been working with them to try and prioritize our PACT team as one of those efforts so it is our hope that we will be moving into 2023 with an expansion of that valuable program,” Bray said.
The board was also asked how it plans on being more accountable on these issues, but no clear definitive action plan was promised.
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