Fentanyl is killing Albertans at an alarming rate. In 2015, 274 Albertans died due to fentanyl overdoses, which unfortunately leads the country. First quarter statistics for this year show that we are on the same track, with 69 fentanyl-related deaths between January and April.
That is why as responsible legislators, I thought we needed to take action. I was proud to put forward Bill 205: the Pharmacy and Drug (Pharmaceutical Control) Amendment Act, 2016. This bill will regulate the ownership of pill presses used to make illicit opioid drugs. Many of these devices can be purchased on the internet and can manufacture 10,000 to 18,000 pulls in a single hour. Under this new legislation, owning a pill press without the proper license could result in hefty fines.
Bill 205 received unanimous support from the Alberta Legislative Assembly on May 16 and will come into force on January 1, 2017. This legislation will help to save lives by giving law enforcement another tool to get these drugs off our streets.
Sadly, it seems our own government in Alberta, along with the Official Opposition, are not as understanding of the dire situation Canada is currently facing. Our government has been slow to act on providing the needed supports to address long-term addiction recovery support and public awareness, and our Official Opposition is okay with simply studying the problem of fentanyl more. It’s unfortunate to see the Official Opposition criticize the efforts made to address this crisis, rather than supporting solutions. The Progressive Conservative caucus believes that there has been enough studies done. We know opioids kill and we know our province and our country is in crisis. Now is the time to take action.
Alberta is leading the way in the fight against these deadly drugs, and I’m proud to play a part in that. If our government won’t elevate this issue to national attention and meet with our neighbouring governments, then the Progressive Conservatives will gladly play the role of advocates. Over the coming days, I will meet with British Columbia’s Minister of Justice and Solicitor General and the federal government to have the same discussions, and how we can address this issue impacting the lives of some many Canadians.