11/15/2013 02:21 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

Rona Ambrose Hopes Rob Ford Gets Help But 'Won't Pass Judgment'


CALGARY - The federal health minister says she hopes embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford gets help and she isn't going to pass judgment on him.

Rona Ambrose said in Calgary on Friday that Ford needs to come to terms with his problems and get the support that he needs.

"It is a touchy subject only because none of us want to pass judgment on someone who is going through a very difficult time," said Ambrose.

"I do understand from his latest public comments that he is seeking some help and I think when people go through these kinds of things, they need to turn to their families and whatever their support system is."

Ambrose has taken a tough stance on the use of drugs since taking over her portfolio.

Last month, she said certain drugs, such as heroin and cocaine, could no longer be obtained for patients under a federal special access program.

New regulations close a "loophole'' in the program that would have allowed restricted drugs — including ecstasy, LSD, "magic" mushrooms and "bath salts" to be authorized for certain patients.

"The prime minister and I do not believe we are serving the best interests of those addicted to drugs and those who need our help the most by giving them the very drugs they are addicted to,'' Ambrose said in late October.

The new rules stop doctors from prescribing dangerous drugs and "abusing'' the program, which is designed to let patients in exceptional cases obtain medications normally not allowed in Canada.

Ambrose stopped short of harshly criticizing Ford when asked if she thought he was setting a bad example for the people and especially children.

"I think he has to come to terms with the fact that he has publicly stated that he has a zero tolerance for drugs and (with) the situation in his personal life," said Ambrose.

"My understanding from what his latest public comments are (is) that he is getting help. That is what all of us would want to see with anyone that we know, that they go and get the help that they need."

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