OTTAWA – Healthcare professionals across the country are seriously considering increasing safer opioids to suppress the crisis that emerging data suggest has helped more than 2,000 lives in the first half of the year.
Canadian Chief Public Health Officer announced on Wednesday that the delivery of toxic drugs is a key part of the UK outbreak.
Creating Safer Opioid Supply is "actively reviewed and discussed" with provinces and territories, Dr. Theresa Tam said, and will require a survey of what treatments people require.
He said that tightening the market supply of illicit drugs would not be easy, adding that he also hoped the Canadians would understand the seriousness of the problem.
"In Canada, not everyone is on the same page," Tam said. "I think my request has been an escalated, compassionate response, and to carry out many of these measures, society must be on the side."
The provincial health minister of British Columbia praised the decision to consider a more secure supply – something the province has long insisted on.
"Right now, the problem that we are doing in the BC and growing across the country is the poisonous, toxic delivery of drugs on the street," said Dr. Bonnie Henry.
"This is what kills people in this province right now, we know that coupled with the stigma and the fact that people who have addiction need these drugs rather than choice and can say: I will not take them anymore .
Donald McPherson, executive director of the Canadian Drug Coalition, said a safer supply of opioids was a non-brain to ensure people were not forced to turn to a "deadly, illegal market."
Data released Wednesday by the Public Health Agency show that 94% of opioid deaths this year are classified as "accidental poisonings". Nearly 72 percent were unintentional deaths involving highly toxic fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances.
Fentanyl, a highly potent and addictive opioid, is estimated to be 100 times more potent than morphine and is usually mixed with opioids sold on the street, meaning consumers do not know the power of the medication they are taking.
The Canadian Institute for Health Information also reported a 27 percent increase in hospitalizations due to "opioid poisoning" over the past five years. Hospitalization levels last year are 2.5 times higher in smaller communities, with a population between 50,000 and 100,000, compared to the largest cities in Canada.
Canadian health experts also encouraged Ottawa to adopt a Portuguese approach to drug policy that decriminalizes limited quantities of drugs for personal use while offering educational and social benefits. Henry argued that the liberals should consider decriminalization.
"The federal government at this time is not looking at decriminalizing people on a national basis," Henry said.
"We are facing a crisis in the BC where we need to do more."
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