- The Weekender
Government of Canada announces emergency funding to combat opioid crisis in Alberta
The Government of Canada has announced emergency funds of $6 million to combat opioid crisis in the province.
These funds build on $75 million in federal funding previously announced to address this issue.
With the current overdose crisis having a huge debilitating impact in many communities in Alberta and spreading across the country, the government has announced an additional $6 million in urgent support to the Province of Alberta to assist with its response to the growing effects of the significant crisis.
“The opioid crisis is complex, and is affecting communities across this country in different ways,” said Minister of Health, the Honourable Jane Philpott. “To get ahead of the crisis, we need to be collaborative and compassionate in finding solutions that work in each community. Today’s announcement is just part of our ongoing commitment to exhaust every possible avenue in addressing this crisis.”
Canada’s opioid crisis is multifaceted. First, the overdose crisis has been driven by the emergence of fentanyl and other powerful illicit opioid drugs, which has led to unprecedented number of deaths among users of illegal drugs. And second, high levels of addiction to legal opioids across Canada have been caused, in part, by inappropriate prescribing practices and poor education about the risks associated with opioids. The government’s Opioid Action Plan, including the new resources announced today, addresses both of these aspects of the crisis.
The Government of Canada has already taken numerous steps to address the opioid crisis, including $75 million in previously announced funding to address this crisis. Other examples of actions include making naloxone readily available, overturning the ban on the use of prescription heroin to treat the most severe cases of addiction, and introducing Bill C-37 to simplify and streamline the application process for supervised consumption sites, clamp down on illegal pill presses and extend the authority of border officers to inspect suspicious small packages coming in from offshore.
“Every day we are seeing the impact of the opioid epidemic on families and communities,” said Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, the Honourable Ralph Goodale. “We will continue to work together with all our partners to stop the illegal drug flow and battle against the misuse of these drugs. We support the province of Alberta in its efforts to fight this dreadful scourge.”
The government remains committed to a comprehensive, collaborative, compassionate and evidence-based approach to addressing this crisis and the underlying causes of problematic substance use over the long term.
In total, the Government of Canada has announced $81 million in funding to address the ongoing crisis. In addition to today’s announced emergency funding for Alberta, $10 million in emergency funding has been provided to British Columbia, and $65 million over five years has been announced for federal initiatives.
“With the growing toll the opioid crisis is taking on Alberta communities, our government is focussed on taking every action we can to save lives,” said Sarah Hoffman, Alberta Deputy Minister and Minister of Health. “This support from the federal government is crucial in supporting our work to expand treatment to more Albertans affected by substance use. I wish to thank Minister Philpott for her continued partnership in addressing the impact of fentanyl and other opioids in Alberta.”
The $65 million over five years will be used to support the federal government’s ongoing implementation of the Opioid Action Plan and the new Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy announced in December 2016, which reinstates harm reduction as a core pillar of Canada’s drug policy. This funding could be used to: enhance regulatory activities to manage the risks of opioids and reduce access to unnecessary opioids; increase national lab testing capacity; develop and implement a national public awareness campaign; increase research on problematic substance use; expand supports for First Nations and Inuit communities, such as access to naloxone kits; strengthen national data surveillance and monitoring; and fund grants and contributions to address various issues that are unique to the opioid crisis.