The federal government has finally come together to address Canada’s opioid crisis with a two-day summit, which took place on Nov 17 and Nov 18, in Ottawa, Ont.
Health experts, health ministers, addiction experts and afflicted families attended the summit – hosted by Federal Minister of Health Jane Philpott and Ontario Minister of Health Eric Hoskins – to discuss legislative changes that would address the issue.
After oxycontin was removed from shelves in 2012, fentanyl, a painkiller 100 times more toxic than heroin and morphine, began being prescribed to treat chronic pain. A bootleg version of fentanyl quickly began being peddled on the black market. Worst of all, the illict opioid has been frequently found cut into other drugs like heroin, cocaine and ecstasy without the user’s knowledge. The equivalent of two grains of salt of fentanyl is capable of causing a fatal overdose in both hardened users and first-timers.
Opioid-related deaths across Canada have drastically spiked over the last few years. Between 2009 and 2014, there were 655 deaths in Canada related to fentanyl, according to a report by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse.
British Columbia was the first province to declare a public health emergency over the soaring number of opioid-related overdoses. There were 302 illicit drug overdoses connected to fentanyl up till August 2016, according to the B.C. Coroners Service.
The summit resulted with proposed changes in improving access to safe injection sites, increasing border security, and increasing access to suboxone, a substitute painkiller. Overall, discussion on the problem has finally been put into motion on a national level.
Check out my fully-interactive infographic here