Volume 95, Issue 90

Friday, March 22, 2002
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Film festival fiasco

Legal beagles chase their tails

Caravan of culture rolls through atrium

French knight forges community bond

Harpen new Alliance leader, Day now officially a loser

London says no to drugs, despite doctor's prescription

New homeless funding falls short

News Briefs

London says no to drugs, despite doctor's prescription

By Ben Leith
Gazette Staff

London city council's decision against spending $45,000 on anti-bioterrorism drugs has left the city's chief medical health officer with concerns.

Graham Pollett, chief medical health officer for the Middlesex-London Health Unit, said he was disappointed with the decision made by council at Monday's meeting.

"Essentially, the city didn't feel they should be funding such a stockpile, but rather the federal government should be," he explained.

Pollett said council's decision is "detrimental" to London because, as of now, there is no federal funding for drugs to counter bioterrorism or anthrax attacks.

Having its own drug reserve would enable London to respond immediately to an attack, he said.

"Our stockpile was never intended to meet all the needs of the community, but to enable us to respond immediately and get the additional resources that could be required," he added.

City controller Joe Swan said council firmly believes the funding should come from the federal government. "The council just feels the federal government should be approached to help communities with this situation," he said.

The federal government has the military knowledge necessary to determine which communities could be at risk of a bioterrorist attack and which should be supplied with drug stockpiles, Swan said.

"The majority of council didn't feel London would be at the same kind of risk as Toronto, Vancouver or St. John's," he said.

Through a collaboration process with the chief medical officers of health of each province, Health Canada decided not to include London on the list of nine Canadian municipalities where drugs will be stockpiled, said Paige Raymond Kovach, director of media relations at Health Canada.

Kovach said because of London's proximity to Toronto, where drugs will be stored, a London stockpile is not necessary.

"In case of emergency, drugs from Toronto's cache would get [to London] in time," she said.

–with files from Jessica Leeder and Erin Conway-Smith

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