1 min

Compassion and care

Barney Hickey prioritizes drugs, shelter & red tape

HEALTH PROBLEMS. Barney Hickey prescribes a nurse's care for what ails Vancouver. Credit: vcaTEAM

What city council really needs is a nurse, says vcaTEAM candidate Barney Hickey. And he’s the nurse for the job.

“I believe we have significant health problems,” he says with more than a hint of his Newfoundland roots in his accent. Vancouver’s major problems, from its drug trade to its homelessness rate, are all, fundamentally, health problems, Hickey says.

That’s why his first priority, if he gets elected, will be the implementation of Vancouver’s four-pillar drug plan. It’s been delayed long enough, Hickey says. This city’s addicts need safe injection sites. They need access to sterile needles and clean water to mix their drugs. And they need access to medical practitioners to help them when things go wrong, he says.

Safe injection sites will also “drastically reduce the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C,” adds Hickey, who has sat on numerous AIDS organizations boards in the last 15 years.

Vancouver’s law enforcement approach to drugs will keep failing until it’s paired with harm reduction and treatment centres, he continues. Addiction is neither a law enforcement nor a moral issue. It’s a health issue, Hickey says, and “it needs to be addressed with compassion and care.”

Hickey also hopes to address Vancouver’s social housing needs if he gets on council. The Woodwards squat is symptomatic of a “really big problem” that dates back to the federal government’s decision, several years ago, to pull out of social housing, he says. City council needs to push for a renewal of federal funds to create more affordable housing units.

Then there’s the issue of fun. Vancouver councillors need to get their heads out of the sand and loosen up the liquor laws, Hickey says. They’ve been running this city in “an ultra-conservative way” and it’s time for a change.