“Health Canada’s announcement to move forward on restricting six chemicals used in the production of fentanyl will benefit Albertans and Canadians. This important move reflects Alberta’s advocacy for changes at the federal level, and we thank the Government of Canada for their partnership. Our government asked for this last fall after our police partners, the Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police (AACP) passed resolutions relating to limiting access to the precursor drugs used to produce fentanyl. This government is focused on reducing the availability of fentanyl and other drugs in the province. Alberta’s police services know that precursor drugs are available in Alberta as they have already discovered large quantities of these deadly chemicals here.”
In the first six months of 2016, 153 people in Alberta died from apparent drug overdoses, related to fentanyl. This compares with 139 people who died of fentanyl related overdoses in the first half of 2015.
“The steps announced by Health Canada are encouraging, but it’s important these steps are implemented as quickly as possible. This is one example of the work being done provincially and nationally on a comprehensive strategy to combat illicit opioid abuse. As Alberta continues to see more lives lost to fentanyl addiction, we must use all the necessary tools to support people struggling with addictions - including harm reduction, treatment, public awareness and law enforcement.”
The Alberta government and its partners have taken a number of actions aimed at curbing fentanyl’s impact in the province:
- The province has provided $3 million to Alberta Health Services for additional opioid replacement treatment spaces and counselling supports.
- Since December 2015, the province’s supply of publicly funded naloxone kits has tripled, from 3,000 to 9,000.
- The number of naloxone distribution sites has increased to more than 853 locations, including more than 600 community pharmacies.
- As of July 31, 2016, the Alberta Community Council on HIV had dispensed 2,910 kits. Of those, 313 kits were reported to have been used in overdose reversals. The number is probably greater than what has been reported.
- In addition, ministerial orders have been extended to allow registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses to prescribe naloxone, paramedics, EMTs and EMRs to administer naloxone.