Five ways the Alberta NDP is tackling the opioid crisis
Things include more detox beds, ad campaigns, naloxone kits and treatment spaces
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As fentanyl continues to loom in Alberta, Metro asked the government what it has done to address the province’s opioid crisis. From January 1 to March 31, 69 people died as a result of fentanyl-related complications, and 395 were hospitalized by poisoning from other opioids, including fentanyl.
9.6% - Naloxone Kits
The government said 171 of 1773 naloxone kits dispensed by the Alberta Community Coalition on HIV have been reported to reverse overdoses. This spring, the NDP has also tripled the province’s supply of naloxone kits from 3,000 to 9,000. There are now more than 800 locations, including 660 pharmacies and 70 walk-in clinics, that offer the kits.
The government has opened or announced about 50 new detox beds in Alberta’s communities. Of that number, there are 18 new detox beds in Medicine Hat, three new beds for children under the Protection of Children Abusing Drugs Act in Calgary, 20 beds for adults in Red Deer, and six to eight new beds in Lethbridge.
Law enforcement and data collection
In the government’s budget, the NDP announced a $2.6 million funding increase for the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT), bringing the total investment to $29.1 million. ALERT has since made several seizures of fentanyl and opioid precursors, which includes a 2,000-pill bust in Edmonton in early June. The government has also increased data collection measures, by deploying a Justice staff member and assigning someone as a director, to potentially help with prevention efforts.
$3 million - Opioid dependency treatment plans
The government gave a $3 million grant to Alberta Health Services this spring so that more opioid replacement treatment clinics can be opened across the province. On May 24, a clinic in Cardston was opened to serve the high needs in the area, including the Kainai Nation, where an estimated 350 patients will be accessing suboxone. A clinic in Fort McMurray was also included so patients don’t have to travel to Edmonton.
Prevention and public awareness
The government provided Proceeds of Crime grants, totalling $240,000 for 17 projects, to police and community partners to raise awareness about fentanyl and other drugs. Projects include school and community programs, film projects, training criminal analysts and pubic campaigns implemented by AHS. Alberta Health also funded AHS with an additional $100,000 for additional campaigns.