Premier Christy Clark met with federal officials on Thursday, flanked not only by her health minister and addictions experts, but also by two people whose lives have been shaken by fentanyl — including a woman who lost her son to an overdose and another who has wrestled with opioid addiction herself.
If the emotional effect of hearing their experiences isn’t enough, B.C. is also asserting very public, political pressure.
The province’s health minister, Terry Lake, told a private radio station yesterday that there would have been “much greater federal action” if the crisis had hit Ontario with the same force as it hit his province. The B.C. Coroner’s Service said Wednesday 622 people have died from drug overdoses in the first 10 months of 2016, an average of about two people every day. Sixty per cent of the overdose deaths are linked to fentanyl. The province declared a public health emergency back in April and has set up a task force to address the problem.
B.C. has been asking the federal government to move faster in streamlining the process to set up more supervised drug injection sites, such as Vancouver’s Insite. The premier has also called for Ottawa to do more to restrict access to pill presses and tableting machines and to pursue stronger penalties against those who import and traffic in fentanyl.