Yukon NDP Membership votes unanimously for urgent action on Harm Reduction

Whitehorse – This Saturday, the Yukon NDP held its annual convention, where party members came together virtually from across the territory. In a resolution brought forth by MLA Blake, members voted unanimously in favor of changes to the party policy, calling for more harm reduction programming to combat the ongoing drug poisoning crisis.

Deaths by drug poisoning in the territory have reached a new level of crisis. From Mayo to Carcross, to Old Crow – no community in the Yukon has escaped this tragedy. The Yukon NDP caucus has echoed these concerns many times, but little to no real action has been taken by Ministers or the Premier.

 “As a party, we believe that every Yukoner’s life is valuable. We believe that much more needs to be done to help Yukoners who are struggling. This is why members took a firm stance on our approach to the drug poisoning crisis.” – MLA Kate White, Leader of the Yukon NDP

 The resolution, which lays out 12 harm reduction goals through a combination of western and Indigenous practices, received unanimous support from the Yukon NDP membership present. All members agreed that harm reduction is critical to address the crisis we are facing.

“People want to see action and support for all who are affected by the losses we are experiencing in the territory due to the opioid crisis. When lives need saving, support and intervention should be immediate.”  – MLA Annie Blake, Vuntut Gwitchin

“It was exciting to see unanimous support for this revolution. Our members come with many perspectives and life experiences – and all of us agree that we need action now.”  – MLA Emily Tredger, Whitehorse Centre

 The harm reduction resolution includes the following goals: 

  1. Ensure that people with lived and living experience of substance use are meaningfully included in policy and program development;
  2. Provide a continuum of care for treatment of addictions that include withdrawal management , counseling, intensive inpatient treatments, and after-care. Development of services to youth will become a priority;
  3. Ensure inclusive, culturally safe and non-judgmental prevention and education programs;
  4. Support communities in addressing issues related to substance use that work for them, including prevention, education, and support;      
  5. Identify, analyze, and address gaps between related services for people who use drugs including but not limited to the RCMP, medical, withdrawal management and treatment facilities, harm reduction programming, outreach workers, and local and First Nations governments;
  6. Establish a safe sobering space for acutely intoxicated persons that is not located within an RCMP detachment or Correctional facility and is supervised by a trained medical professional and support workers at all times;
  7. Establish programs of standards of care, performance evaluation, and professional training in harm reduction and addictions medicine for everyone providing care for people who use drugs in order to ensure that all persons under their care are assessed and treated with best practices and with compassion and dignity in a non-judgmental manner;
  8. Embrace harm reduction as a guiding principle in all aspects of prevention, treatment and other service provision;
  9. Apply for a territory-wide exemption to federal drug possession rules with the intent of decriminalizing personal possession of all drugs;
  10. Expand the availability and accessibility of pharmaceutical-grade alternatives and opioid replacement therapies to Yukon communities;
  11. Establish and implement managed alcohol programs in communities where there is need in order to support Yukoner’s who struggle with alcohol consumption;
  12. Make available safe and confidential drug testing in communities outside of Whitehorse