The ‘This is Us’ video and kit are part of the research project Accessing Drug Use Reality in an Inner City Community. This work is informed by information compiled by the Faculty of Social Work and published by the Social Policy Research Unit, University of Regina, Canada.
Pregnancy and Childbirth
“I stayed, I slept in a chair. I prayed as much as I could. And put my hands in the incubator and that. A couple of nurses were talking, ‘She shouldn’t even be having children, she doesn’t deserve them.’ I could hear them talking.”
Women who use drugs routinely suffer health problems associated with lives of extreme poverty, from poor nutrition to serious infectious diseases. Delivering a healthy child is a big challenge that requires access to quality health care. Yet even women who quit during pregnancy tend to avoid routine prenatal care. This is not because they are ignorant or uncaring. it is because they fear Social Services will take their children away. This fear is based in real life experience. Eighty-four per cent of women accessing Regina’s Methadone Maintenance Program have lost custody of their children at some point.
“I was twelve years old and I was tired of being hungry, tired of having no clothes and stuff like that, so I just ran away from home.”
Despite decades of social welfare programs, the income gap and poverty rates remain stubbornly high in Canada and Saskatchewan. This is particularly true for women, children, seniors and Aboriginal people.
“I want my future to be with my kids.”
Since 2007, there has been a dramatic 68 per cent increase in the number of Saskatchewan children who have become permanent wards of the state. Three times the number of Aboriginal children are now is state care than at the height of the disastrous residential school policy.
The Saskatchewan Ministry of Health HIV & AIDS Annual Report (November , 2011) states “From 2002 a steady upward trend has occurred in the rates of HIV cases reported in the province. The highest rates of new positive HIV cases from 2001-2010 have occurred in the past three years…” The report also states “While the national HIV rate has remained fairly stable over the last seven years, in 2006 Saskatchewan HIV rates surpassed the national rate for positive HIV case reports in Canada and have remained consistently higher than the national rate.” Saskatchewan’s rate is twice the national rate, with 75% of new infections associated with drug use. Saskatchewan faces the largest HIV/AIDS epidemic in Canada. The question is, why is this so? What is specific to Saskatchewan that can be contributing to the HIV tragedy?
The Justice System
Because they use drugs that are illegal, injection drug users are often involved in the criminal justice system. As well, those who are addicted may commit crimes to support their habit. Saskatchewan instituted a drug treatment court in 2006, however this initiative is not a panacea. Appropriate, flexible treatments services remain few and far between. Justice system workers interviewed by members of the research team agreed that the current situation is not satisfactory.
Classroom Resource – Safe Injection Sites
What is a safe injection site? How do they operate? What laws are they subject to? This PowerPoint presentation provides some basic background and small-group discussion questions for teachers and students.