Too Hot to Handle

I have been involved in community consultations for a local organization that looks at public health. In the last consultation, we were tasked with identifying policy priority areas around 6 main areas, including ‘Alcohol and Substance Misuse’. At the end of the day we had to pick two top priorities, which ended up being 1) Exploring safe injection in London, and 2) Educating health providers about addictions to decrease stigma.

At today’s event, the goal is to take the 2 action priorities for the 6 areas, and start evolving them into explicit policy directions. You can imagine my surprise in looking through the workbook for today when I noticed that safe injection had disappeared from the priority list for ‘Alcohol and Substance Misuse’. It was replaced by the priority we had ranked 3rd, a public education campaign to address city-wide stigma around addictions.

So, here I had been sharing with friends and colleagues that London was poised to get ahead of the curve in addressing substance use, and this was going to be led by a very large and very credible public health organization. However, it appears that the priority was too hot to handle. What is most diappointing to me from a process perspective is that although the events were called community consultations, the outcomes were vetted and are again going to be agency driven rather than community driven.

4 thoughts on “Too Hot to Handle

  1. Saddened. Not surprised. Just saddened and disappointed.

    Thus I continue to struggle to work in the environments you invest yourself in. I would have an extremely hard time being at peace with others under those circumstances.

    You should ask them if your involvement is truly valued, or is it merely the appearance of your involvement that they seek.

  2. Very unfortunate and upsetting. It sounds as though the issue of safe injection and harm reduction were clearly identified as a priority and then taken off the table for political reasons by the agency you’re talking about. How sad and misguided when a supposed “public health” agency lets ideology (perhaps political pressure?) trump evidence, best practice AND public input. I had read about the progress it seemed was being made in London, Ontario around harm reduction and public health. Too bad the group you’re working for is sweeping it under the rug.

  3. I share the frustrations that both of you have expressed. I will note that action for enhanced harm reduction services will continue in London, but what was most disappointing is I thought we would have the leadership of a very well resourced and respected organization to make it happen. But, as Scott said, this was derailed by politicking.

  4. Send me the name of the organization and some added detail about the nature of the consultation process that you were engaged in (number of participants, organizations represented, way in which the process had been described to you, etc) and I’ll make some inquiries without revealing who the info came from. If I think the story warrants it, I’ll publish it.

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