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The Hub announces Hub Forum, a new venue for smart conversation about the big issues of the day

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The Hub announced today the launch of Hub Forum, a new email and online discussion feature that will be a venue for substantive discussion and debate about the important public policy issues facing the country.

Hub Forum will be available to Hub donors, who will receive a daily email with the feature article and a link to the day’s policy discussion. Hub readers can see a sneak preview of Hub Forum now with the formal launch taking place Wednesday.

Prepare for rich conversations on all the top issues that are driving the discourse in Canada, from housing to populism, to the fiscal health of our country. Hub writers and staff will be involved in the daily discussions and readers will also be able to upvote and downvote comments.

“We have this amazing community of people reading The Hub who have deep insights into national affairs and public policy. Hub Forum will be the marquee place on our platform to collect, debate, and move forward on the issues driving the public conversation,” said Rudyard Griffiths, The Hub’s executive director.

Hub Forum is the second initiative launched this year by The Hub to use “network effects” to promote better debate and new thinking on public policy issues.

Later this month, The Hub will announce the winner of the Hunter Prize for Public Policy, which aims to promote fresh strategies to take on a “wicked problem” in Canada and improve the economic and social well-being of Canadians. This year, contestants were tasked with finding a high-impact, low-cost, politically feasible policy reform to reduce health-care wait times.

“The Hunter Prize is bringing new and different voices into the world of public policy to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing the country. It’s demonstrating how The Hub can be a place to aggregate smart conversations, clear thinking, and better ideas,” said Sean Speer, The Hub‘s editor-at-large.

Ten finalists have been chosen for the Hunter Prize and The Hub will soon be publishing their proposals for groundbreaking ideas to fundamentally improve Canada’s health-care system.

And readers will soon get a chance to discuss these ideas on Hub Forum.

If you enjoy The Hub, be sure to check out more insightful commentary on our YouTube page:

Conservatives overwhelmingly embrace the ‘Alberta model’ of tackling addiction

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QUEBEC CITY — The Conservative Party may have a reputation for bickering and in-fighting but its members were able to find one area of overwhelming consensus at the party’s policy convention in Quebec City this weekend.

With 93 percent of delegates voting in favour of the resolution, the Conservatives almost unanimously decided to adopt elements of the Alberta provincial government’s strategy for combating drug addiction.

It was one of the largest margins at the convention and a big endorsement of a policy that has been polarizing in Alberta, but has attracted the support of Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre as he campaigns against disorder in Canadian cities.

Officially titled the “Alberta Model: A Recovery-Oriented System of Care,” the strategy emphasizes recovery through the use of long-term recovery facilities across the province to help addicts overcome their addiction.

The Alberta model de-emphasizes “safe supply” policies, which involve the government providing substances to addicted persons to replace often fatally-toxic drugs purchased off the street. 

“The truth is that what we’re doing in Canada, and the way that we’ve been thinking as a society, about addiction for the last 20 years, has been a failure,” says Dan Williams, Alberta’s minister of mental health and addiction, in an interview with The Hub. “And we see that both in the data, the literature, but we can also see it with our own eyes.” 

Williams attended the convention in support of the resolutions inspired by the Alberta model.

He says Canadians will have a choice between the Alberta model, or the “safe supply” model endorsed by the federal government, which he says has helped to perpetuate the rampant addiction and homelessness crisis in Vancouver. 

“We know that addiction running its course has one of two ends,” says Williams. “It either ends in pain, misery, and with enough time, death, or the alternative is treatment, recovery and a second lease on life.”

The Alberta model is often presented in sharp contrast to the B.C. government’s approach, which has embraced “safe supply” policies to help combat the province’s long-standing and deteriorating rate of addiction. While “safe supply” has been praised by the B.C. government and federal Liberals as a viable strategy, the rate of addiction and drug-related deaths in the province has only increased since “safe supply” policies were enacted. 

Julian Somers, a professor of health sciences at Simon Fraser University, says government activities, including policies regarding employment, foster care and housing, clearly influence addiction and other forms of mental illness.

Somers says the recovery-oriented systems of care can be used by governments to coordinate publicly-funded services to optimize prevention and promote recovery. These ideas are based on successes achieved in Switzerland and Portugal, he says.

Stephen Ellis, the Conservative MP for the Nova Scotia riding of Cumberland-Colchester and the party’s critic for health, says the Liberal government’s support for “safe supply” has been ineffective, and that the Conservatives want drug and addiction policies to move in a new direction. 

“We know that there’s a dignity of person, and that those people have a life that they want to lead and passions that they want to pursue,” says Ellis “That’s the kind of compassionate conservatism that we want to show in Canada.” 

In 2022, B.C. once again broke its record for annual drug-related deaths, after already breaking that record in 2021. Other cities like Toronto and Edmonton have been experiencing their own cases of rising homelessness and often fatal addiction. 

“Twenty Canadians are dying every day as a result of overdoses, and of course, we know that that’s an unacceptable proposition for Canada,” says Ellis. “And we know that this has been an experiment, and we know that it’s a failed experiment.” 

Richard Bragdon, the Conservative MP for the New Brunswick riding of Tobique—Mactaquac, praised jurisdictions like Alberta for their approach to addictions, which he says had been an “all hands on deck” approach. 

“They are starting to implement some really good strategies towards tackling this and thinking outside the box and forming effective partnerships with NGOs, nonprofit organizations, (and) faith based communities,” says Bragdon. “The recovery model, we find, definitely has the best outcomes long term.”