Opioid response commission term extended
The province is building on the life-saving work of the Minister’s Opioid Emergency Response Commission by extending its term for another 18 months.
In the past year since the commission was created, the province has opened thousands of new treatment spaces, established supervised consumption services and supported opioid awareness programs.
“The commission provides critical insight on what we need to do to keep people safe, healthy and alive. I thank the members for their dedication to this work and look forward to continuing to support more initiatives ensuring Alberta families affected by the opioid crisis get the health-care services they need.”
“We need to continue saving lives by increasing access to harm-reduction programs such as supervised consumption services and naloxone kits and supporting new treatment options. I’m pleased to lead a diverse and dedicated group with a wide range of perspectives and experiences who are taking action to address this unprecedented public health crisis.”
"The quarterly update shows there is still much more work to do to address the overdose crisis in Alberta. Yet I’m encouraged by the actions taken and investments made this past year. This progress is in part due to the commitment and insights of commission members, including especially those with lived experience and those on the ground working to save lives. It has been an honour to lead the commission over the past 12 months and I thank Associate Minister Payne for accepting our recommendations, extending our term and continuing our work."
The harm-reduction experts, persons with lived experience, parent advocates, law enforcement, health-care providers and government representatives who are part of the commission help ensure the province’s actions on the opioid crisis are urgent, coordinated and targeted. New members will also join the commission: Dr. Nathaniel Day, medical lead of Alberta Health Services rural opioid dependency program in central Alberta, Grande Prairie Mayor Bill Given and Peter MacKinnon, AHS senior provincial director, population, public and Indigenous health strategic clinical network.
“By virtue of our role in providing emergency first response, social services, law enforcement, public housing and public education programs, municipalities are on the front lines of the opioid response. Local councils and municipal staff maintain close connections with organizations working in areas such as harm reduction, housing, health, public education and serving vulnerable populations. I look forward to serving on the commission and identifying how we might best leverage these relationships and municipal knowledge to develop and execute interventions that are more comprehensive and appropriate to the local context of communities across the province.”
“As a treating physician with the AHS Rural Opioid Dependency Program, I see clients ranging from the young adult who made a poor decision at a party, to the worker who was prescribed relief for chronic pain. No matter how the substance use disorder started, there are safe and effective options to treat it. I am proud to join the commission and contribute to the critical life-saving work its members have undertaken to help people affected by substance use regain the healthier, more productive and stable lives they so desperately miss.”
The most recent opioid surveillance report shows that the work of the commission needs to continue – 158 people died from apparent fentanyl poisoning in the first three months of 2018. In the last quarter of 2017, 183 people died from an apparent fentanyl overdose.
The government has committed $63 million in Budget 2018 for actions to address the opioid crisis, an increase of $7 million over last year.
- The Minister’s Opioid Emergency Response Commission was established in May 2017, initially for a one-year term. The term has now been extended to November 2019.
- The commission has released 26 recommendations that are all being implemented, including:
- Providing $9.5 million over three years to support primary care providers in providing treatment, medication and care to patients and families affected by the opioid crisis.
- Expanding the number of opioid dependent spaces across the province, helping an additional 3,500 people every year receive this treatment.
- Providing startup and operational funds for supervised consumption services in Edmonton, Calgary and Lethbridge, as well as funding to establish these life-saving services in Medicine Hat, Grande Prairie and through a mobile unit in Calgary.
- Funding 29 opioid awareness projects across Alberta to increase public understanding, reduce stigma and help Albertans learn where to find life-saving resources.
- Expanding Alberta’s Take Home Naloxone Program to provide more kits to anyone who needs one, as well as training on how to administer the overdose prevention kits.