David Swann statement on 2017 second quarter opioid report

Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann released the following statement in response to the release of the 2017 second quarter opioid report:

“I am deeply troubled and saddened by the fact that another 119 Albertans have tragically lost their lives in the last three months due to opioids.

“The number of people in the province dying from fentanyl overdoses each quarter remains unacceptably high. Over the past six months, fentanyl has taken 241 lives, and that number is projected to reach 480 by the end of year.

“This dramatic increase in deaths over the previous year illustrates the fact that, despite its best efforts, the NDP government still does not have a handle on this crisis.

“While the report calls this year’s number of overdose deaths ‘significant’, I find it horrifying, especially given that they are entirely preventable.

And, while the government claims ‘the trend appears to be ‘stabilizing’ since there were three fewer deaths from the previous quarter, I see the overall number of deaths as further evidence of a lack of progress.

“In short, this report shows that the NDP government has failed. 

“The establishment of the Opioid Emergency Advisory Commission is yet another example of this government’s piecemeal approach to this crisis, which has yielded no better results.

“What Alberta need is an evidence-based, coordinated plan that makes proper use all of the tools at the government’s disposal. This includes declaring a state of emergency.

“Whatever the NDP may think about the technical aspects of it, the symbolism alone of calling this what it is, an emergency, will go a long way in creating awareness and mobilizing resources. 

“We immediately need increased public education campaigns, improved access to harm reduction measures, and we need to make these resources more readily available, especially outside of our major urban areas. These wait times continue to be too long.

“As we are approaching two deaths per day, I keep asking, what is the holdup here? This is supposed to be a national emergency. It is time the NDP started treating it as such.”