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HomeNewsMLA Drysdale praises local efforts against fentanyl crisis

MLA Drysdale praises local efforts against fentanyl crisis

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Alberta’s opposition parties can agree on at least one thing: more needs to be done about the opioid problem in this province. The Wildrose, Progressive Conservative, Liberal and Alberta parties came together Monday to push for an emergency debate on the matter.

It was unanimously agreed to later in the house, where Grande Prairie – Wapiti MLA Wayne Drysdale asked the the NDP to declare a state of emergency.

“I urge the government to call a public health emergency and start taking the step today for all Albertans. If they do not take this step, they’re doing all Albertans a disservice, because everyone is suffering in some way.”

Associate health minister Brandy Payne has said the move isn’t appropriate in fighting an addiction and mental health issue. She maintains they’re working with medical practitioners and frontline workers to respond.

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Fentanyl overdoses claimed the lives of 343 Albertans last year, and that doesn’t include other opiate deaths that haven’t yet been classified. At one point, Grande Prairie led the province in per capita fentanyl deaths, and 18 were reported in 2015. Drysdale says those numbers are decreasing, with nine overdose deaths last year.

“The reason we’re seeing this change for the better is due to the concerted effort of many local agencies in northern Alberta. For instance, health units have made special attempts to generate awareness of the dangers of fentanyl and other deadly synthetic opioids.”

Drysdale also credits the efforts of RCMP and ALERT targeting drug dealers, HIV North giving out naloxone kits in rural communities, and the province for creating a new treatment clinic in Grande Prairie. He argues these approaches could work on a provincial scale.

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