The Prince Albert Grand Council, or PAGC in Saskatchewan is calling for help to combat a drug crisis in the city.
According to Statistics Canada, Prince Albert has the highest amounts of cocaine, meth and amphetamines in its wastewater per capita in the country.
“This situation goes beyond mere statistics,” said Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte. “The City of Prince Albert is facing a serious challenge that demands immediate and robust action.”
Nearly half of Prince Albert’s population is Indigenous. The PAGC’s Holistic Wellness Centre provides drug prevention using cultural practices. But director Joan Breland said those efforts are challenged by an overwhelming demand.
“There just aren’t enough services certainly we are calling for them. There is no medical detox within Indigenous programming,” Breland told APTN News. She said PAGC relies heavily on the city’s detox centre, which is out of beds.
“We have our treatment centre that are full, long wait list, the demand is so great and there aren’t enough services and supports that are there.”
Hardlotte said the issue is “exacerbated by gang activity.”
“The Prince Albert Police Service is diligently working to counteract the influence of gangs, it’s clear that policing alone isn’t enough.”
An email from the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health states Addictions Services are available and accessible to all residents in the province.
“Increasing treatment options and expanding addictions services is a priority for the Government of Saskatchewan,” the email states, “The 2023-24 budget includes a record $518 million for mental health and addiction services.”
According to the province, an expansion of training and resource development for crystal meth treatment is also currently underway.
“Everything is just difficult to access and there’s no support. We do what we can with prevention, one-to-one counselling” Breland said, “When it’s difficult to cope, the reality for some individuals is just to escape and that’s through very, very harmful unhealthy choices and we are doing our very best to intervene.”