Member’s Statement by David Swann, March 9th

Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann made the following Private Member’s Statement to the assembly today:

“This week, in a rare display of nonpartisan cooperation, we held an important debate on the opioid crisis, and I thank my colleagues for that.

“We also heard from two courageous advocates for better education and more action on the devastating effects of opioid abuse and addiction.

“Petra Shultz, who lost her son, Danny, works with Moms Stop the Harm – a network of Canadian mothers and families whose loved ones have died from substance misuse. And Rosalind Davis, who lost her partner, Nathan, and works with Changing the Face of Addiction, a not-for-profit seeking political change and to educate the public about drug and addiction issues. They say the government’s refusal to call a state of emergency is unacceptable and that it perpetuates a stigma about opioid-related deaths.

“To its credit, the government has taken many positive steps, which I applaud, but its approach has mainly been reactive and piecemeal.

“Opioid-related overdoses and deaths are reaching unprecedented levels and have now become a national crisis.

“We don’t have the whole picture yet because the data is simply not available. But what we do know, is deeply troubling. In 2016, there were 343 deaths from fentanyl, and many more from other opioids yet to be classified. But, a 33 per cent increase in one year shows this crisis is growing at an alarming rate.

“If we were getting ahead it, then I might agree with the NDP, but, we’re five years into this, and the government, by its own admission, is still developing the strategy.

“We require focused leadership, and a cross-departmental strategy that would provide co-ordination between all government ministries and across all sectors of society.

“Finally, we need to recognize this for what it is, an emergency, and use every means at our disposal to save Albertans’ lives.”