Coalition of businesses supporting progressive drug policies in Alberta

Written by Euan Thomson, on behalf of the Each+Every Leadership (Christina Owczarek, Erica O’Gorman, Jill Dewes, Phil Burgess, Shanika Abeysinghe) and the Each+Every Advisory Board (Claire O’Gorman, Kym Porter, Mackie Martineau, Shay J. Vanderschaege)

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Across North America, as deaths from drug poisonings accelerate, debates rage on around supervised consumption sites and other harm reduction services. In these debates, businesses usually play one of two roles: opposition or silence. Opposition is often couched in tacit support for services for people who use drugs, with a ‘not in my backyard’ caveat. Meanwhile, the silence of the vast majority of businesses is petrified by a volatile public discourse climate exemplified last summer when an alcohol producer found itself mired in controversy after its donation drive for The Alex, a Calgary community health and housing nonprofit, was met with vocal criticism from a prominent addictions physician.

It is past time for businesses to show explicit support for harm reduction services. Otherwise, our silence will continue to amplify the voice of opposition all too easily heard by policy makers, and drug deaths will continue to accelerate.

Each+Every: Businesses for Harm Reduction seeks to build more fair and compassionate communities by rallying businesses to accelerate drug policy reform. In helping to end the stigma of drug use through collective actions and targeted campaigns, we can help reverse the growing overdose crisis while building our communities.

Through conversations with people who use drugs, activists and frontline workers, Each+Every has identified an opportunity to bridge businesses with people who use drugs through compassionate outreach. As Garth Mullins told us, “businesses can talk to other businesses in ways that people who use drugs can’t.” Put another way, businesses with little to gain from each other can have honest conversations about how to help their communities thrive.

“Businesses can talk to other businesses in ways that people who use drugs can’t.”

~ Garth Mullins, Crackdown Podcast

We are encouraging businesses to learn how to prevent overdoses, carry naloxone and broadcast it with window stickers and social media activism—simple acts to nurture allyship between businesses and their community members who use drugs. By announcing themselves as caring neighbours to people who use drugs, we are confident that businesses can contribute to flourishing, inclusive communities, where they receive the same care in return.

READ MORE: Why businesses should be on board with harm reduction

Help us grow the Each+Every network. If you know an owner or a manager of any size business anywhere in Canada, put us in touch via the contact information below. We are particularly interested in connecting with businesses that operate near supervised consumption sites, overdose prevention sites, and businesses operating in rural areas.

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About Canadian Drug Policy Coalition

Advocating for public health- and human rights-based drug policies grounded in evidence, social justice, and compassion. www.drugpolicy.ca