Opposition parties demand action on fentanyl crisis
Published Monday, March 6, 2017 5:27PM MST
Last Updated Monday, March 6, 2017 7:25PM MST
All four of Alberta’s opposition parties are demanding the NDP declare a provincial health emergency in order to focus resources on the fentanyl crisis.
The parties joined together in Edmonton along with those who have been hit hard by the crisis, including Rosalind Davis, whose 34-year-old partner died of an overdose.
“There is no shame in being human. The real shame, that belongs to our government. Our government is aware of the situation, they are aware of the solutions, no other epidemic killing this many Albertans would receive so much apathy,” she said.
Last year, there were 343 fentanyl-related deaths in Alberta, and if you count all opioid-related deaths, the count nearly doubles. The opposition parties want this province to follow British Columbia’s lead in declaring an emergency, which may have led that province to getting $10 million in federal funding.
“A public health emergency would allow for prompt coordination of action to avert or minimize a pandemic. When one person a day is dying or more, that’s the definition of a pandemic,” said Greg Clark, Alberta Party Leader.
“Greater information sharing from a public health emergency would allow us to better coordinate services and help our health and law enforcement professionals. The fact is, this crisis is bigger than partisan politics,” said Angela Pitt, Wildrose Official Opposition Shadow Justice and Solicitor General Minister.
“We are on a sharp upward trend with no end in sight if we continue with these reactive measures,” said Mike Ellis, PC Justice and Solicitor General Critic.
“There needs to be a clear plan that includes all the stakeholders involved in caring for people with addictions, mental health, homelessness and whatever other social and financial issues they are dealing with,” said David Swann, Alberta Liberal Leader.
CTV asked the associate health minister about the option of declaring an emergency and was told that the NDP is in negotiations for similar federal support.
“Our government has been considering whether or not the public health emergency will give us any new tools since the beginning of this crisis, and our evaluation is that it will not,” said Brandy Payne.
In the meantime, the drugs that are meant to kill pain, oxycodone, morphine and fentanyl, are killing some people instead.