Frustrated health minister urges action from Ottawa on fentanyl crisis

By James Peters
November 21, 2016 - 11:44am

KAMLOOPS — BC Health Minister Terry Lake is expressing frustration at the focus of a national conference on opioid addiction that wrapped up in Ottawa over the weekend.

Lake says the meeting dealt largely with long term measures such as prescribing practices.

He notes those measures are important, but federal leaders don't seem to understand the urgency of the situation in BC, where 622 people have died due to overdoses so far this year.

"Fentanyl is coming into the market, and actually causing such a huge impact to families across the province. So my message was, we need to do more to stem the flow of fentanyl coming in to particularly British Columbia, but it will get to the rest of Canada soon," explained Lake.

Lake says the Trudeau government needs to initiate high-level discussions with China about addressing the fentanyl trade, and needs to address RCMP shortages in BC.

"We need high-level discussions with China to stem the flow of fentanyl coming into the country. We need to have Bill C-2, which prevents the establishment of safe injection sites, we need that bill repealed as soon as possible. We need to have RCMP resources here in British Columbia bolstered - we are 30 per cent down."

He adds the government should also declare a national public health emergency, which would sharpen its focus on the problem.

"While those medium to long term actions are important, we need urgent action. We've declared a public health emergency, and yet that doesn't seem to be recognized in Ottawa at the moment."

RELATED VIDEO: Students get close-up look at dangers of fentanyl

BC Liberals nominate Peter Milobar in Kamloops-North Thompson