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British Columbia approves protocols to give opioid prescriptions to minors 

Recently, Adam Zivo reported in the National Post that the British Columbia government has authorized the distribution of opioid prescriptions to minors, without parental permission. This is being done under the province’s “safer supply” or “harm reduction” strategy which involves the prescription of opioids, including fentanyl, to addicts. So, instead of trying to put these children into rehab to get off drugs completely, the program aims to provide individuals with “clean” drugs as an alternative or supplement to the illicit and toxic substances that they are addicted to.

Harm reduction is grounded in the belief that complete abstinence is an impossible goal. This perspective is evident in sex ed, where the focus is on teaching kids how to lower but not eliminate the risks of unwanted pregnancies and STDs – it’s safer, but not at all safe, sex. One of the goals of harm reduction is often to “destigmatize” actions, whether it be in the case of “sexual liberation” or drug use. Some Christians see this shame-free approach as a way of loving your neighbor, yet it goes directly against what God says about sin. How can one come to repentance if you are told what you are doing is not shameful?

Despite the implementation of “safer supply” pilot programs across the country since 2020, the latest data from BC Coroners Service reveals that 2023 marked the third consecutive year with overdose deaths exceeding 2,000 lives.

Recent reports of “safer supply” programs have found serious cases of diversion, where people were getting government-funded drugs and selling them, and in some cases, bringing them to youth in suburban areas.

In an August report, the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU) proposed protocols permitting nurses and doctors to prescribe opioids to both adults and minors. The BCCSU, in outlining its protocols, has even admitted that “To date, there is no evidence available supporting this intervention, safety data, or established best practices for when and how to provide it.” So, without any clear sense of concrete evidence that interventions like this work, they proceeded to recommend this process with loose requirements. The only requirement for minors to qualify is a “two prescriber approval system,” wherein one medical professional interviews the patient, and the other signs off.

What raises serious concerns is the lack of acknowledgment for parents and their rights over their children within these protocols. According to the National Post’s Adam Zivo:

“While the B.C. government generally promotes its commitment to safer supply, it was oddly silent in this instance. I became aware of the new protocols only because two concerned addiction physicians contacted me shortly after their publication.”

The absence of any requirement to inform or involve parents in the decision-making process for minors seeking prescription opioids may create incentives for young individuals to distance themselves from their families. The family unit, a child’s God-given foundation of support and guidance, is bypassed in a manner that could contribute to strained relationships and increased risks for the young individuals involved.

Not only does the province allow access to safe supply drugs without needing parents’ approval, but it also takes away parents’ rights to get the help their child needs. In BC, parents can’t make their kids go to rehab against their will.

Historically, the Church has been the place where individuals with addictions sought help, but in recent times, we have witnessed a shift towards government interventions driven by a worldview that doesn’t value the family as God does.

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"Be Fruitful and Multiply" tour comes to Albertan April 19-22

Families are having fewer babies, and the world’s population is expected to peak and then decline later this century. The world isn’t prepared for the impact that this is going to have. However, what may be the greatest challenge of this century can also be a huge opportunity for the Church to shine…. if we embrace the blessing of children, and are prepared to raise them faithfully.

In this presentation, Reformed Perspective’s Mark Penninga will unpack data, history, and God’s Word to make the case for embracing the gift of children with open arms.

WHO IS THIS FOR?

Ages 16-116, single or married, children or no children, these presentations are suitable for all mature Christians.

WHEN AND WHERE?

Edmonton: April 19 at 7:30 pm at Immanuel Canadian Reformed Church

Barhead: April 20 at 7:30 pm at Emmanuel United Reformed Church

Ponoka: April 22 at 7:30 pm at Parkland Reformed Church

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News

Alberta and BC champion very different responses to drug use

Earlier this year, BC became the first province to decriminalize small amounts of illegal drugs. The policy was the latest “harm reduction” effort from the province’s NDP government. The province boasted that “British Columbia is taking a critical step toward reducing the shame and fear associated with substance use.” This move was approved by Health Canada, which granted a three-year exemption from federal drug laws. Only a few months later, the effects are being felt in towns and cities throughout the province. “BC’s drug decriminalization experiment is off to a disastrous start” shouted the headline from the national affairs columnist in the Globe and Mail. Gary Mason proceeded to describe the situation on the ground, including a report from Mike Stolte, from Nelson, BC. “I’m a pretty liberal person who has been involved in compassionate programs for hospices and other entities,” Mr. Stolte told the Globe and Mail. “So, I feel for anyone battling addictions. I was initially a fan of decriminalization but I think the longer we continue with this experiment, the more and more downtowns are going to cease to exist. Nobody will want to go near them.” Stolte now keeps a baseball bat and bear spray by his front door after experiencing four thefts in the last two months. One province over, Alberta has refused to decriminalize drugs. Instead, they have been expanding the treatment spaces and now have capacity to serve 29,000 people every year. They also got rid of the fee for treatment. Instead of making drugs more accessible, they are making treatment more accessible. On the heels of their provincial election, the province’s UCP government took it a step further by announcing it would introduce the Compassionate Intervention Act, which would give the province the authority to require chronic drug addicts, who are believed to be at great risk to themselves or others, to get treatment. This too would be the first of its kind in Canada. “There is virtually no addict that makes a change in their life without some measure of intervention,” shared Marshall Smith, the chief of staff to Alberta’s Premier. He knows this from experience, having gone from being a staffer in the BC legislature to living on the streets in Vancouver for four years, as a result of a cocaine and meth addition. According to the National Post, he credits his recovery to the local police, who gave him the option of jail or a spot in a treatment center. Although there are not yet statistics to compare the two approaches, BC overdose deaths have doubled since 2016, though there was a slight decrease of 1.5 percent last year. The drop was much larger in Alberta, at 12 percent last year. BC’s approach rests on a belief that people should be free to pursue their desires, even if they are risky and dangerous. This is a similar strategy to that which was employed over the past half-century with the normalization of sex outside of heterosexual marriage, by focusing on “safe sex.” In contrast, Alberta’s approach recognizes that some activities need to be discouraged, even to the point of forcing people to change their lives. Although there is no explicit recognition of sin, nor an express desire to live in a way that respects our design as image bearers of God, Alberta’s approach is an encouraging step in the right direction. It will be important to compare the results of the two strategies in the coming year....