regulation project new hires regulation project new hires
At no point in history has the need for legal regulation of drugs been more pressing. As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across the globe, public health policies meant to halt its advance have increased the toxicity of the illegal and unregulated drug market, and fatal overdoses have risen in major cities like Toronto and Vancouver. Legally regulating drugs is now more urgent than ever, and in service of that goal the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition has entered the next exciting phase of the Regulation Project, which will explore knowledge and attitudes about models of delivering a safe supply of drugs to those who use them in Canada.
The Coalition has hired a Qualitative Research Associate, Erin Howley, to design the research and public engagement framework underpinning this innovative and ambitious project. Erin brings over a decade of expertise around community-based research and adult education within prisons, healthcare, and neighborhood settings. She has led multiple research and evaluation projects focused on harm reduction, mental health, and social inclusion within frontline health and social service organizations. She will work to design and implement all aspects of focus groups that will engage a wide range of stakeholders about potential models for delivering a safe supply of substances. Her work will help define how safe supply might be delivered at scale, while meeting broader public health and human rights outcomes that will empower governments to realize evidence-based drug policies.
To assist in this task, we have also hired two Masters of Public Health students, Raveena Gill and Neeru Hayre, to support CDPC’s research and public engagement work. Raveena has a background in healthcare as a registered nurse and currently works in the emergency department, where the effects of the opioid overdose crisis can be witnessed firsthand.
Neeru is also a registered nurse with frontline experience responding to the current overdose crisis. As part of her work, she will collect and evaluate existing knowledge and practices around safe supply in Canada, and help to engage a variety of stakeholders to discuss how they view different models of safe supply and how decisions are made to participate in such programs, as well as analyze how responses to COVID-19 compare to responses to other public health emergencies.
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed the vulnerability of people engaged in substance use and has reduced the capacity of governments to provide lifesaving supports during times of global crisis. It has underscored the dire need to act and opened a window of opportunity to advance policy options grounded in a human rights and public health framework that can both save lives and protect the broader community from the harms of drug prohibition. We’re excited to move this important project to the next stage of development to meet those aims.