The Selinger government came under fire for the second day in a row Wednesday for its handling of treatment services for people addicted to the prescription painkiller OxyContin.
Tories and Liberals blasted the NDP for the resignation of Dr. Lindy Lee as the director of the addiction unit at Health Sciences Centre.
Lee told the Free Press she quit because she "couldn't keep plugging the holes" given growing demand for opiate-addiction services and lack of support from health officials.
Conservative Leader Hugh McFadyen said Premier Greg Selinger should get directly involved and ask Lee what has to be done to fix the situation -- one that's compounded by criminals robbing pharmacies of OxyContin at gunpoint.
"It's a matter of having her outline what the requirements are on an urgent basis and what the requirements are on a longer-term basis," McFadyen said. "I don't think she's asked for a blank cheque at any step along the way. She's asked for a commitment to immediate resources and she was told she would have to wait two years."
Liberal Leader Jon Gerrard said Lee's resignation is a sign the government has misjudged the extent of OxyContin abuse. He said people are dying -- one estimate is about 25 people over the past few years -- while they wait to get into a treatment program.
"If there's not a quick response now, more people are going to die."
Gerrard said Healthy Living Minister Jim Rondeau, whose file includes drug treatment programs, should resign.
"Mr. Rondeau has been hopeless," Gerrard said. "Hopelessly inadequate."
Rondeau repeated Wednesday most of what he said the day before: The province plans to train up to 12 doctors to prescribe methadone to treat OxyContin addicts. Only two or three doctors do it now.
"As much as I like to create methadone treatment in the community, we have to train the staff to make sure they do it, we have to have the sites licensed and do it appropriately, or I wouldn't be doing my job," the minister said. "We're working with the feds to see if we can move it forward faster."
Rondeau would not comment directly on the reasons behind Lee's resignation, other to say the province adjusts funding to meet the demands of the entire addictions-treatment system.
"I have lots of positive feelings about her commitment and her treatment of patients," he said of Lee. "She did a good job."
He also said he will meet with the province's pharmacies and pharmaceutical representatives to look at ways to prevent robberies and break-ins by thieves looking for OxyContin.
Police said Wednesday that officers are looking for a man armed with a handgun who robbed the Ebbeling Pharmacy on Watt Street and the Munroe Pharmacy on London Street the day before.