The Pulse: Sept. 13, 2021

Here's what you need to know about Edmonton today.

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  • 22°C: Mainly sunny. High 19. (forecast)
  • 32-16: The Edmonton Elks (2-3) lost to the Calgary Stampeders (2-4) on Saturday. (details)

A photo of naloxone kits on a backpack.

'This is a health issue': How Edmonton should tackle its opioid crisis

By Andy Trussler

The pandemic has worsened Edmonton's opioid crisis — supervised consumption sites are overwhelmed with demand and overdose deaths continue to climb.

The Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association announced a new Opioid Poisoning Committee on Sept. 9, and the University of Alberta's Elaine Hyshka is calling on the City of Edmonton to also take more steps to combat the epidemic.

"We've never seen anything as severe as the current situation," Hyshka told Taproot's Speaking Municipally. "So far in 2021, the numbers are looking like things are not getting better. We're expecting to see a very high death toll by the end of this year."

In the first three weeks of August 2021, Edmonton's Emergency Medical Services (EMS) responded to 305 opioid-related emergencies, compared to 220 at the same time in 2020.

Hyshka, an assistant professor of health policy and management, said that while the city has made strides to assist Edmontonians struggling with substance use in the form of supportive housing, there is more work to be done.

"This is not a crisis of addiction that needs to be treated with residential treatment beds or addiction treatment programs," Hyshka explained.

Instead, she said those struggling with substance abuse need to have access to a full spectrum of care, including evidence-based treatment options like pharmaceutical opiates and heroin.

"Every time the government, whether it be the federal or provincial level, says that the way to fix this issue is to fund treatment, it demonstrates that they fundamentally misunderstand the situation," Hyshka said.

"The reality is people are dying long before they have an option to seek those treatment programs. You cannot recover from a substance use disorder if you don't have a pulse."

Hyshka also wants to see the city re-direct more resources towards supportive housing initiatives and advocate for the provincial decriminalization of drug possession.

"When we (call) this a health issue and not a criminal justice issue, that also would go a long way towards encouraging people to be more open about their substance use," she added.

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By Michelle Ferguson

  • The city amended its mask bylaw during a special meeting on Friday. Performers will no longer have to wear masks on stage, as long as they are behind a wall or six feet away from the audience. Members of a congregation will have to wear masks while attending indoor religious ceremonies.
  • Catholic Social Services has begun welcoming Afghan refugees. Twenty people have arrived in Edmonton so far. Around 5,000 refugees will be settled in Alberta over the next few months in Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge and Brooks.
  • A ceremonial fire pit was set up to bring awareness to a third unmarked gravesite related to the former Charles Camsell Indian Hospital. The site is located at 7301 199 St. NW in Enoch Cree Nation.
  • An Edmonton man's surgery was cancelled while he was awaiting anesthesia, because there were no hospital beds available for him at the University of Alberta Hospital on Thursday.
  • A city-funded project is gathering stories from Alberta Avenue residents to measure the health of the neighbourhood. Auricle is a multi-year city initiative that addresses problems in core neighbourhoods by connecting residents of different backgrounds.
  • A new recreation centre opened in southwest Edmonton on Friday. The Dr. Anne Anderson Community Centre is the result of a collaboration between the city and Edmonton Public Schools, with the city contributing $5.5 million toward the project.
  • About 400 people gathered in Edmonton on Sunday to protest current COVID-19 restrictions, including many first responders and health-care workers calling for freedom of choice when it comes to vaccinations. Meanwhile, a group of doctors is saying that the province's refusal to impose further health measures, such as vaccine passports, will lead to more deaths.
  • Hundred gathered at a rally outside the Alberta Legislature on Saturday to voice their concerns over the UCP's K-12 curriculum. Many school boards have opted out of piloting the rewrite this fall, including Edmonton Public Schools.
  • People's Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier made a campaign stop in Edmonton at Borden Park on Saturday — launching a three-day tour of Alberta. He railed against vaccine mandates and COVID-19 restrictions and held a maskless meet and greet in Spruce Grove later that day.
A map of Edmonton's Nakota Isga ward.

Nakota Isga: Where the candidates stand on the People's Agenda

By Karen Unland

Taproot asked candidates to complete a 30-question survey based on what we heard when we asked what key issues people wanted the candidates to be talking about as they compete for votes in the 2021 municipal election.

Here are the answers we've received so far from the candidates in Nakota Isga:

We have not yet received a finalized survey from Dave Olivier. We will update the links above when we receive it.

Want to see which candidates line up best with your own stances? Take the survey and find out.

For more coverage of the 2021 municipal election in Edmonton, visit And for more on the origins of this project, visit our People's Agenda page.

A black and white shot of Edmonton.

Coming up this week: Sept. 13-17, 2021

By Andy Trussler

Photo: Kory deGroot/Instagram

Correction: We have removed Net Impact Professional's walking tour of Old Strathcona's sustainable buildings because it took place on Sept. 14, 2019, not 2021.