Community partnership on drug abuse disbanded
SYDNEY — A partnership that formed following numerous prescription drug-related deaths six years ago will fold April 30.
Cape Breton Regional Police Chief Myles Burke made it official in a news release issued Thursday. Speculation of the demise of the Cape Breton Community Partnership on Drug Abuse has been rampant since late last week.
As chair of the group, Burke said there was an overlap in resources from various partners at the Cape Breton District Health Authority, Cape Breton University and the regional police force, among other partners.
“We felt that it was time to probably look at what’s best for the community, our resources, etc.,” Burke said.
He said the regional police service is open to continue the work with their partners, as long as staff and volunteer resources are used wisely.
“Spreading people too thin can be a difficult thing, and we want people to volunteer and be working toward a goal,” Burke said.
“When we start looking at sustainability with finances and competing interests with other groups it’s time to take a hard look at what we’re doing and if there’s a better way to do it.”
The community partnership on drug abuse formed due to the numerous drugrelated deaths connected to oxycodone abuse. Its focus was to work collaboratively to address the harmful impact of the abuse of drugs in the community, using interventions based on evidence and research.
The organization successfully lobbied for the usage of a provincewide electronic prescription monitoring program and helped support the establishment of the addiction services methadone maintenance program.
Burke said much of the heavy lifting in getting drug pushers off the street has been done. Although he admitted there are still people dying of prescription drug abuse in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.
“I think all of the big hits have been done and accomplished. We haven’t won the battle, but we’ve won significant pieces ... dealing with the issues of prescription drug abuse and deaths in our communities.”
A former chair of the partnership, who’s now a Cape Breton Regional Municipality councillor, George MacDonald, expressed his disappointment regarding the decision to disband the partnership.
“The group was so successful that it’s been recognized as one of the most successful collaborations among agencies we’ve ever had. So I’m not happy,” MacDonald said, Thursday.
“I’ll only be satisfied when I see who’s going to finish off these projects.”
Burke said among the projects still left on the table to be completed before the end of April is the asset development report, which reviews assets in the community to assist youth with literacy and poverty issues.
“The more positive things youth have, the less likely they’re going to get into antisocial or risky behaviour like drugs or other activities that could be deemed as risky,” Burke said.