Former Edmonton police chief leads panel reviewing Alberta supervised consumption services

Former Edmonton police chief Rod Knecht will chair a panel of experts who will review supervised consumption services in Alberta.

On Monday morning, the province unveiled the eight people who make up the Supervised Consumption Services Review Committee.

The panel was appointed by Jason Luan, associate minister of Mental Health and Addictions, and will hear from Albertans on the social and economic impacts of supervised consumption services on their homes, businesses and communities.

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The committee will hear from citizens, businesses, elected officials, supervised consumption services (SCS) operators and other key stakeholders.

The panel will review both existing and proposed sites across Alberta, and use the feedback to submit a report to the government for future policy decisions, the province said.

Luan said the review will correct what he says is an imbalance in previous government policy on injection sites. He said the government already has plenty of information suggesting that safe injection sites do save lives.

Watch below: The minister in charge of looking into supervised consumption services in Alberta is in hot water over a tweet questioning the evidence supporting them. Tom Vernon explains. (Filed July 2019).

The province said the experts on the panel represent “a range of relevant views and experiences.”

“Members have lived experience with addiction as well as expertise and experience in business, real estate, economics, social demography, research ethics, addiction and recovery services, harm reduction, First Nations health, mental health, trauma, pain management, and law enforcement and crime reduction,” read a media release from the government Monday.

Knecht retired as the chief of the Edmonton Police Service in October 2018 after more than seven years as the city’s top cop.

Associate Minister Jason Luan stands with the chair and vice-chair of the Supervised Consumption Services Review Committee. Monday, Aug. 19, 2019.

In June, the United Conservative government announced it was pausing funding for proposed supervised consumption sites in Alberta.

The provincial government has said it wants to look at the impact the current sites have on communities.

There are currently four sites in Edmonton, two in Calgary and one each in Grande Prairie and Lethbridge. Alberta also has some overdose prevention sites (OPS), which are similar to supervised consumption sites — however, OPS are temporary facilities rather than permanent sites.

The panel reviewing supervised consumption services in Alberta includes:

  • Rod Knecht, chair
  • Prof. Geri Iininaatoáákii Bemister-Williams, vice-chair
  • Dr. Charl Els
  • Joan Hollihan
  • Dr. Rob Tanguay
  • Dr. Ray Baker
  • Paul Maxim
  • Steve Cormack

Albertans will have a chance to voice their opinions on supervised consumption sites through public engagement sessions and online.

Public engagement will take place over three weeks in September, in all communities with existing or proposed SCS:

  • Grande Prairie
  • Edmonton
  • Red Deer
  • Calgary
  • Lethbridge
  • Medicine Hat

Exact details on the dates and location are still being finalized, the province said Monday. More information will be released online once it’s finalized.

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