David Swann statement on interim opioid report, increased fentanyl deaths

Edmonton, AB (April 7, 2017): Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann released the following statement in response to the release of the interim Opioid and Substances of Misuse first quarter report:

“It is very troubling that the number of Albertans who have died has doubled over the same period last year, especially since these deaths are preventable.

“It is clear that we are not getting ahead of this crisis. In fact, we are starting to see the same trends witnessed in British Columbia, but without our government taking similar emergency measures.

“While I welcome the addition of $6 million in federal funds to help Alberta’s opioid-crisis response, as well as the NDP’s willingness to enhance treatment options in the critical stages of opioid abuse, I believe new, focused leadership is required.

“This includes the reinstatement of the Provincial Mental Health and Addiction Officer, along with a comprehensive and coordinated strategy involving other governmental and non-governmental agencies.

“For example, regulatory bodies such as the College of Physician and Surgeons of Alberta need to ensure their guidelines are being followed in order to prevent further opioid addictions resulting from abuse of prescriptions.

“We need increased public education efforts and timelier access to harm reduction, including opiate replacement therapy and safe injection sites. We also need to expand the availability of these resources outside of our two largest cities. Lethbridge, for instance, has a four month wait list – this is unacceptable.

“Once again, I urge this government to declare a state of emergency. Let’s do everything in our power to get ahead of these deaths so that more lives are not lost with each new quarterly report.”