The province has also received and accepted the first recommendations of the Minister’s Opioid Emergency Response Commission, including providing operational funding for the supervised consumption sites in Alberta currently under review by Health Canada.
“Government is working to address the opioid crisis on all fronts. The work of the Opioid Emergency Response Commission is crucial in ensuring the province’s actions are targeted in the areas where they will have the greatest impact. Harm-reduction programs like supervised consumption services are an important strategy to help people using street drugs do so in a safer environment where overdoses can be prevented.”
Supervised consumption services provide sterile equipment, encourage safer drug use, facilitate access to treatment and provide emergency care in the event of an overdose. Applications are currently under review by Health Canada for the establishment of supervised consumption services in Calgary, Edmonton and Lethbridge.
“Supervised consumption services are a critical strategy for responding to overdoses when they occur. Today’s announcement puts Alberta one step closer towards securing federal legal exemptions, opening these services and saving lives."
In May, Alberta Health Services (AHS) submitted an application to the federal government, proposing that supervised consumption services be provided at the Sheldon M. Chumir Health Centre. AHS began consulting with the community about its proposal at the end of June and, to date, five engagement sessions have been held with more than 100 community members. Several more sessions are planned for the coming weeks. In addition to the grant funding for renovations at the proposed Calgary site, the province has provided $1.03 million to support needs assessments, coalition-building and the development of federal applications in several other Alberta communities.
The province has also accepted a second recommendation by the commission to support the development and implementation of a coordinated, comprehensive provincial evaluation framework for supervised consumption services.
Alberta continues to see high numbers of overdose deaths related to opioids and fentanyl. The second quarterly report of 2017 shows that between April 1 and June 30, 119 people died from an apparent fentanyl-related overdose in Alberta. In the previous three months, 122 people died from an apparent fentanyl-related overdose.
Another 33 people died from an apparent drug overdose related to an opioid other than fentanyl in the first three months of 2017.
Government continues to address this crisis by:
- Adding new treatment spaces, including opening the first AHS opioid dependency treatment clinics in central Alberta and Grande Prairie.
- Expanding access to the live-saving drug naloxone. More than 21,800 free naloxone kits have been distributed and more than 1,700 overdose reversals have been voluntarily reported.
- Empowering more people to provide naloxone as part of their official work. So far, government has enabled firefighters, police officers and first responders to administer this drug in an emergency.
- Boosting surveillance work done by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to do more in-depth reviews of opioid-related deaths. This information will help government and the Minister’s Opioid Emergency Response Commission tailor their actions and plans moving forward.