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.
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.