Opioid crisis continues while NDP dither

Opioids kill at least one Albertan every day. This crisis and the related mental health issues are both personal and social tragedies.

By Mark Smith

Drayton Valley-Devon constituency

 

Opioids kill at least one Albertan every day. This crisis and the related mental health issues are both personal and social tragedies.

The answer to this crisis is not going to be easy. Addiction and mental health issues are complex; a band aid approach will not work.

What hasn’t helped is the response of the Alberta government.

The NDP government has been slow to address this crisis, struggling even to collect and publish the data needed to understand the scope.

They were even slower getting naloxone into the hands of emergency responders so they could save lives.

There has been a vague focus on four areas: Collect and publish data; Expand opioid replacement therapy; Conduct needs assessments for supervised consumption sites and; Address prescription drug misuse.

This is a very weak response.

Wildrose has joined the medical community in urging the government to declare a medical emergency as B.C. has done. With the NDP’s refusal, Albertans are continuing to lose valuable supports that would come with the declaration of a medical emergency.

Almost two years ago, the Auditor General highlighted the lack of a provincial action plan and explicitly called on the Department of Health to produce one. At a meeting on Tuesday, I was discouraged to find out the department has only succeeded in organizing a few committees while in the midst of our provincial opioid crisis.

One of the committees started out with about 60 people and has now ballooned to over 250! While it is wonderful to know that so many people are so committed, a committee of this size is probably not going to be very effective in finding workable solutions.

Even worse, the last meeting of this committee was cancelled because government officials apparently didn’t have anything “meaningful” to talk about. Instead they sent e-mails and a newsletter.

When I asked for the top three actions in their action plan, we learned that there is no plan yet. It would appear that creating committees is the sum total of the government’s efforts in trying to address the Auditor General’s recommendations and save Albertan’s lives.

Albertans and their families who wade through the quagmire of mental health and addictions issues deserve better.

We need an action plan developed by front line workers that will provide easily accessible entry points into the health care system. We need a plan with real strategies on multiple fronts to ensure immediate help is available and further support for long term recovery and rehabilitation.

This is the conclusion of the Auditor General, mental health and addictions professionals, the Opposition and especially Albertans who are facing heartbreak from this opioid crisis.

As always, I invite you to contact my office to discuss this or any other issue.

Mark Smith is the Wildrose MLA for the Drayton Valley-Devon constituency, including much of the County of Wetaskiwin. He can be reached by phone 780-542-3355 toll free 1-800-542-7307, Drayton Valley Devon constituency office Box 7272 Drayton Valley, AB, T7A 1S5, email draytonvalley.devon@assembly.ab.ca.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, which causes COVID-19, emerge from the surface of cells isolated from a patient in the U.S. and cultured in a lab in a 2020 electron microscope image. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-HO, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories
Alberta adds 463 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday

The central zone has 818 active cases

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta identifies 573 new COVID-19 cases, 13 deaths on Saturday

There are currently 9,727 active cases of the virus in the province

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Three new COVID-19 deaths in Central zone, Alberta under 10,000 active cases

The Central zone sits at 849 active cases, with 52 people in hospital and 10 in the ICU.

Black Press File Photo
Maskwacis RCMP lay charges for attempted murder, kidnapping, and flight from police

Female victim remains in hospital in serious condition.

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Blackfalds RCMP investigate fatal collision

Preliminary investigation revealed a south bound pickup truck collided with an eastbound car

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

In this Dec. 18, 2020 photo, pipes to be used for the Keystone XL pipeline are stored in a field near Dorchester, Neb.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP
‘Gut punch’: Alberta Premier Jason Kenney blasts Biden on revoked Keystone XL permit

Kenney said he was upset the U.S. wouldn’t consult with Canada first before acting

Joe Biden, then the U.S. vice-president, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau take their seats at the start of the First Ministers and National Indigenous Leaders meeting in Ottawa, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau, Biden to talk today as death of Keystone XL reverberates in Canada

President Joe Biden opposed the Keystone XL expansion as vice-president under Barack Obama

Most Read