26 August 2014

Evidence for Democracy

Our current federal government's aversion to facts is now, unfortunately, well-established as a fact itself. Examples are legion, but I will just mention one.

Health Minister Rona Ambrose has assured Canadians that her government is a firm believer in science-based policy. Unfortunately, in a recent CBC interview she went about proving herself wrong. On the subject of drug treatment, she stated, and repeated with variations, a number of times, "There is no evidence at this point that heroin—giving heroin to heroin addicts—is any way an effective treatment." Science, it seems, disagrees. A study by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, prepared by researchers with the National Addiction Centre at King’s College in England, states:
"Over the past 15 years, six RCTs [ randomized controlled trials] have been conducted involving more than 1,500 patients, and they provide strong evidence, both individually and collectively, in support of the efficacy of treatment with fully supervised self-administered injectable heroin, when compared with oral MMT [methadone maintenance treatment], for long-term refractory heroin-dependent individuals. These have been conducted in ... Switzerland ... the Netherlands ... Spain ... Germany ... Canada ... and England."
It appears Ms. Ambrose isn't even familiar with the most recent research in her own country. Canadians who despair at a government that has such little regard for facts in their policy making, have ample opportunity to respond. They can, for instance, support any of the other three major parties. They can also support Evidence for Democracy (E4D), A national, non-partisan NGO that "advocates for the transparent use of science and evidence in public policy and government decision-making."

E4D is looking for experts from all fields to help monitor and report on whether government decisions are being based on the best available evidence. Even if you aren't an expert on anything, volunteers are needed to help with research, social media, communications, graphic design, video production, campaigning, fundraising, writing, and English-French translation. It's an opportunity for every Canadian, at least every Canadian who believes in evidence-based policy (and what member of Progressive Bloggers doesn't?), to do their bit for science and enlightened governance.

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