The province is being urged to fund specialized addiction services for Calgary’s South Asian community amid growing demand fuelled by the opioid crisis.

A provincial panel assembled to guide Alberta’s response to the rising tide of opioid deaths made the recommendation last week, calling on the government to approve funding for addiction programming at the Punjabi Community Health Services (PCHS) society of Calgary.

Staff members at the small northeast clinic say they are seeing more and more clients coming to them with substance use issues, including opioids.

“We’ve seen a dramatic increase in people seeking help for problematic substance use, so this is a tragic crisis in our community,” says Ravi Natt, volunteer chair for PCHS.

“The opioid crisis has had a huge impact on minorities and marginalized communities across the country, and they’re not necessarily going out and seeking services from the mainstream agencies.”

The clinic offers services in a number of languages, including Hindi, Urdu, Pashto, Gujarati and Punjabi. Staff members also take an approach that acknowledges the collectivist, multi-generational character of the community.

Addiction-related issues comprise the second most common complaint made by clients visiting the Genesis Centre-based clinic — though Natt believes the problem is vastly under-reported within the South Asian community.


Christina Ryan, Calgary Herald CALGARY, AB.:JANUARY 14, 2012 — People come to the celebration of the grand opening of the Genesis Centre of Community Wellness in Calgary on January 14, 2012.(Photo by Christina Ryan, Calgary Herald) (for City story by Jen Gerson)00036732A
Christina Ryan, Calgary Herald

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A provincial opioid panel is urging the government to fund Punjabi Community Health Services, housed in Calgary’s Genesis Centre of Community Wellness in Calgary. (Photo by Christina Ryan, Calgary Herald)

“Stigma and shame are such huge barriers to accessing services for the South Asian community,” Natt says. “So, I think the impact is way larger than what we’re seeing.”

Natt says the clinic is seeing more and more clients reporting addiction issues involving fentanyl and other opioids — though alcohol is still the most common substance reported — and the clinic needs funding to expand its services to meet the demand.

It seems the province is listening. Last Thursday, the province’s opioid emergency response commission released a report urging the government to expand funding for PCHS.

If approved, PCHS would be able to hire counsellors and case workers dedicated to addiction …read more


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Alberta urged to fund addiction services for Calgary’s South Asian community

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