Lethbridge West MLA Shannon Phillips issuing a statement on the impending closure of the local Supervised Consumption Site (SCS).

The facility was opened during the tenure of the former NDP government.

ARCHES, the local organization which had been running the SCS, announced this week it will be shutting down services at the 1st Avenue South location at the end of this month.

Phillips, however is blaming the United Conservative government for the closure saying the UCP “is committed to sowing chaos in the health care system, especially during a pandemic.”

The Lethbridge West MLA goes on to say supervised consumption services are part of a full response to the opioid crisis and unfortunately, this issue has been politicized by UCP operatives outside of Lethbridge.

“Our downtown businesses, residents will suffer the consequences. We will see more overdose deaths in our city, and more of our neighbours will suffer, and economic recovery will be made more difficult. The blame for this lies with a UCP government that is committed to sowing chaos in the health care system, especially during a pandemic,” states Phillips.

The UCP government cut off grant funding to ARCHES last month after an audit revealed more than 1.6 million dollars in unaccounted for public funds at the Lethbridge SCS.

“Several years ago, law enforcement, first responders, city officials and health care providers came to the province asking for a full range of health care services to address our overdose crisis,” says Phillips.“The province responded with a number of initiatives, including needle debris cleanup, counseling, intox and detox, housing and supervised consumption. These services have been welcomed by both the UCP and NDP MLAs who have represented our city.”

Once the SCS is closed down by August 31st, ARCHES plans to be out of that facility by the end of September.

In the meantime, a mobile SCS will be operated by Alberta Health Services located outside the Lethbridge shelter.