Grande Prairie is no longer Alberta’s worst city for fatal opioid overdoses. The province says there were three apparent accidental deaths related to fentanyl in the city in the first three months of the year, giving it a rate of 16.2 per 100,000 residents.
That’s the fourth highest rate of all major cities in the province, and a stark drop from 2017 statistics. There were 26 apparent accidental deaths related to fentanyl in the city last year, giving it a rate of 33.8 per 100,000 residents.
Mayor Bill Given established a Community Opioid Response Task Force in December 2017, and was named to the Government of Alberta Health Minister’s Opioid Emergency Response Commission Tuesday. He says it’s too early to say whether efforts from local organizations are working, or if the drop is a “temporary blip” on the radar.
“I think all of the organizations and entities involved in addressing the opioid epidemic recognize that it’s going to take a long-term, sustained effort to have a really measurable and lasting impact. This is something that we’ll need to be in for the long haul.”
The drop in fentanyl poisonings isn’t reflected in how often EMS respond to opioid-related events. Alberta Health says there were 26 calls in January and February 2018, while there were 63 from August to December 2017.