Alberta Liberal MLA Dr. David Swann issues statement on the Opioid Crisis:
The Opioid Crisis continues. The Calgary Fire Department responded to 144 opioid overdose calls in the month of July. That is a new record.
Swann stated, “Clearly we are not getting ahead of the curve on the Opioid Crisis. The NDP Government is spending less than 6% of the health budget on mental health and prevention. This is not adequately dealing with the issue.
Swann added, “Drug addiction is a mental illness and must be treated as such. It should not be a criminal offence. That does nothing to help deal with this illness. It’s time we join Ontario and BC as well as other jurisdictions calling for the Federal Government to decriminalize drugs and save lives. We must bring people into a system that can help them heal and recover their lives.”
“The NDP Government must also commit more resources, expand hours of care and improve physician capacity to deal with what is a life or death issue. The Mental Health Review concluded that effectively addressing this tragedy requires consistent communication between Health, Community and Social Services, Schools and Police. We need more public education. We need more safe injection sites.
“The Medical Examiner’s Office is still not providing timely death reporting on all drug overdose deaths with methamphetamine a growing threat. This is critical information needed to form effective strategies for this crisis.
Fentanyl was the leading cause of death in Alberta in 2016. More than 228 people died from fentanyl overdoses from January-May this year. Free substitute therapy and expanded hours of service are needed.
The opioid crisis is ongoing. It’s time to call this for what it is. It’s time the NDP Government declared a “Public Health State of Emergency.”