Posted on May 9, 2016
Speaking to Bill 205 - Fentanyl
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is my pleasure to rise today and speak about Bill 205 and the important issue that this bill takes aim at, which is illicit fentanyl. Fentanyl is an opioid, or painkiller, that can be used safely when it is prescribed by a health professional and taken as directed. It is also made and sold illegally in our province and across Canada. Fentanyl is very toxic. Just a small amount, the size of two grains of salt, can be deadly. Fentanyl is made and sold in many different forms and can be hiding in other drugs.
Alberta has the highest per capita legitimate opioid consumption in Canada. There is no question that there needs to be a multifaceted approach to addressing both legitimate and illegitimate use of opioids here in our province. Bill 205 can serve to support a broader strategy to mitigate the impact of illicit drugs and stem opioid misuse and abuse. In short, it is one more tool in our toolbox to help stem the tragic tide of deaths in our province caused by fentanyl.
We will continue to address this issue through a variety of actions. This government is exploring as many avenues as possible in response to this issue, including advocating for stronger measures around pill presses and precursor drugs with the federal government; co-ordinating efforts through the fentanyl action response team, which is poised to become a contributor to the overall implementation of the mental health review recommen-dations; working with the health colleges on the triplicate prescription form drug program; working with the federal-provincial-territorial working group on prescription drug abuse; improving data reporting; and ensuring appropriate information and education materials are available to both the public and to medical professionals.
We also continue to be committed to harm reduction strategy, ensuring that people will have access to naloxone, the drug that can help reverse opioid overdoses and save lives. The Minister of Health has signed ministerial orders that directly allow EMTs and EMRs to administer naloxone, RNs to prescribe naloxone, and paramedics, EMTs, and EMRs to dispense the drug. As well, the Minister of Health has signed a further ministerial order that authorizes Alberta Health to pay the dispensing fee charge for naloxone prescriptions. We know that people are using naloxone kits, and we know that they are saving lives.
As well, we want to ensure that people have access to the supports they need for detox and recovery when they are prepared to enter into them. For example, Alberta Health is currently working closely with the community of Cardston to establish a Suboxone clinic so that recovering opiate addicts will have the medical monitoring and support for opioid replacement therapies.
I want to thank the Member for Calgary-West for stepping up to the plate with this bill, and I look forward to discussing the bill in greater detail in third reading. Thank you.