CBC: Alberta opioid report shows fentanyl deaths still on the rise

“”We need increased public education efforts and timelier access to harm reduction, including opiate replacement therapy and safe injection sites,” Swann said. “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.””

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David Swann statement on interim opioid report, increased fentanyl deaths

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 almost 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.”


Federal funding welcome relief for opioid crisis and health system

Alberta Liberal Leader Dr. David Swann welcomes the announcement of federal government funding for the opioid crisis, mental health and home care.

“This is good news,” says Swann. “The opioid-crisis urgently needed these resources. However, money alone will not solve this. We must have better, focused leadership and a more comprehensive, cross-jurisdictional strategy.”

In addition to the $6 million in immediate support to Alberta’s opioid-crisis response, the federal government is offering targeted investments of $703.2 million for home care and $586 million for mental health initiatives over the next decade.

“Mental health is certainly an area in desperate need of substantial further investment,” says Swann. “And doubling the investment in home care is a long-standing Alberta Liberal policy.”

“We believe these measures will help improve care, reduce costs, and lower wait times by alleviating pressure on our acute care system.”


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.”