The message Member of Parliament for Lethbridge Rachel Thomas is hearing from residents is they are fed up with the federal government.
Rachael Thomas says one of the hot topics that many went to the mic with at a recent local town hall was affordability, with many having concerns about the continued increase in daily costs such as groceries or heating, with other comments about the federal environmental plan, which Thomas calls a tax plan.
“My job is to make sure that I am representing the people that have entrusted me with this position, and so to the best of my ability, I try to use opportunities to hear people.”
Another topic of conversation that was brought up multiple times throughout the two-hour Town Hall event was about the drug and addiction problem in Lethbridge. Thomas says across the country, the number of overdoses and deaths due to overdoses is increasing. She adds if you look at the statistics, per capita, Lethbridge is impacted more than anywhere else in Canada.
“Folks are concerned about the long-term ramifications. Addiction is correlated with mental health concerns, of course, and addiction often leads to homelessness, along with an increase in crime,” Thomas says. “That is really sad, and that is going to take an [all levels of government] approach,” Thomas says. “But right now, what the federal government has to offer is safe supply and a harm reduction approach, and it is not working. The numbers show it’s not working.”
According to Thomas, she is hearing those living in Lethbridge would like to see people living with addictions “be set free from it.”
“One of the things we need to remember when it comes to addiction is we are responding to people who have a story, and often have traumatic events that have taken place and often require mental health [social and commutity] supports,” Thomas says. “Ultimately, our goal should be to see these individuals restored to a place where they can live vibrant lives and step more fully into that potential.”
Thomas says she will be holding a Christmas open house in December, where she looks forward to hearing from and continuing to talk to residents about these and other issues.