David Swann statement on 2017 first quarter opioid report, rising death toll

Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann released the following statement in response to the release of the 2017 first quarter opioid and substances of misuse report:

“The continual and dramatic increases in deaths since 2013, year-over-year and from quarter-to-quarter are extremely disturbing and saddening given that they are preventable. We are starting to see the same trends here as in British Columbia, but without our government taking the same emergency measures. This is a mistake.

“The opioid crisis requires strong, new leadership from a mental health and addictions expert who can develop and implement an evidence-based and coordinated plan that makes proper use all of the tools at the government’s disposal.

“Therefore, I am renewing my call to declare a state of emergency, and the reinstatement of the Chief Addictions and Mental Health Officer. Increased public education is also needed as well as improved access to harm reduction, including opiate replacement therapy and safe injection sites. And, we must make these resources more readily available, especially outside of our major urban areas.

“I am also troubled by the manner in which this report was made available. As was the case with the interim report, I find it highly disrespectful to concerned Albertans to release such important information without formal commentary from the Minister on a Friday afternoon, and, in this case, just ahead of a long weekend.

“It hints at an NDP government that is more concerned about biding its time, protecting its political skin, and avoiding accountability for a crisis that it clearly does not have a handle on despite its best efforts.

“With each quarterly report, we are seeing the death toll rise. Now, is the time for the government to admit its approach isn’t working, put away its pride, and join with all opposition caucuses and numerous stakeholders, and declare a state of emergency.

“Enough is enough! Our parents, children, brothers and sisters are dying around us. We must give this crisis all the resources available at our disposal if we ever hope to get ahead of this and save the lives of Albertans.”