June 25, 2019

Winnipeg
16° C, Partly cloudy

Full Forecast

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Saving lives during opioid crisis

Politicians, policy-makers discuss ways to prevent overdoses

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 18/11/2016 (948 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

OTTAWA — As people continue to die from overdoses, health experts, policy-makers and grief-stricken family members brainstormed Friday on a battle plan to take on Canada’s opioid-abuse epidemic.

The federal government has been asked to declare the crisis a national public health emergency.

“During the course of this conference alone... probably six or seven Canadians will die from opioid overdose,” Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins said Friday. “That will happen again tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. We have a tremendous responsibility as a country.”

Hoskins and federal Health Minister Jane Philpott are co-hosting the two day summit in Ottawa.

Get the full story.
No credit card required. Cancel anytime.

Join free for 30 days

After that, pay as little as $0.99 per month for the best local news coverage in Manitoba.

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Keep reading free:

I agree to the Terms and Conditions, Cookie and Privacy Policies, and CASL agreement.

 

Already have an account?

Log in here »

Subscribers Log in below to continue reading,
not a subscriber? Create an account to start a 30 day free trial.

Log in Create your account

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Mon to Sat Delivery

Pay

$34.36

per month

  • Includes all benefits of All Access Digital
  • 6-day delivery of our award-winning newspaper
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 18/11/2016 (948 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

OTTAWA — As people continue to die from overdoses, health experts, policy-makers and grief-stricken family members brainstormed Friday on a battle plan to take on Canada’s opioid-abuse epidemic.

The federal government has been asked to declare the crisis a national public health emergency.

Darryl Dyck / The Canadian Press files</p><p>Federal Minister of Health Jane Philpott, left, and Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins.</p>

Darryl Dyck / The Canadian Press files

Federal Minister of Health Jane Philpott, left, and Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins.

"During the course of this conference alone... probably six or seven Canadians will die from opioid overdose," Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins said Friday. "That will happen again tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. We have a tremendous responsibility as a country."

Hoskins and federal Health Minister Jane Philpott are co-hosting the two day summit in Ottawa.

"There is no question this is a national public health crisis," Philpott said, adding drugs such as fentanyl and carfentanil are claiming more lives in some parts of the country than vehicle crashes — long the No. 1 cause of accidental deaths in North America.

The situation has become so dire that Winnipeg’s firefighters and paramedics have paid for a public-service campaign to underscore the dangers of opioids.

Emergency responders say they are being called to a half-dozen or more overdose calls in a typical 12-hour shift. Three people in Winnipeg died this week in what police believe were fentanyl overdoses.

Fentanyl is a synthetic drug used in pain control that’s 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine.

Carfentanil, which is 100 times more powerful than that, is used primarily by veterinarians on large animals and is sometimes prescribed for cancer patients.

Increasingly, illicit forms of the drugs are being smuggled into Canada and added to street drugs such as heroin and cocaine. The results are tragic. There have been reports of overdoses connected to fentanyl-laced marijuana.

British Columbia is Canada’s ground zero. The province’s coroner reported this week that 622 deaths in that province from January to the end of October were linked to opioids, and 60 per cent of them were fentanyl-related. By comparison, there were 300 deaths in traffic accidents in B.C. in 2015.

Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan are also dealing with a rising rate of overdoses. Manitoba didn’t see a sharp uptick in overdose deaths and hospital admissions until last year — but it is growing quickly here as well.

In 2014, there were seven deaths linked to fentanyl in Manitoba. In 2015, that went up to 18.

This week, the chief medical examiner confirmed there were nine fentanyl deaths and five carfentanil deaths from January to May of this year.

Manitoba Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen has said the absence of solid data on the size of the problem is affecting the ability to respond.

Manitoba’s acting chief provincial health officer Dr. Elise Weiss, who is attending the Ottawa conference with Goertzen, said Friday that developing a better understanding of the people most affected can lead to better programs to help.

Weiss said it’s not clear from other provinces if one particular group is more at risk than others, noting experts from B.C. and Alberta report the problem is more prevalent in different age groups in different cities.

The conference continues today exclusively with policy-makers and public health officials to work on an action plan and get it rolled out soon.

Federal regulators have classified naloxone — the antidote to opioid overdoses — as a non-prescription drug and approved the use of the nasal-spray form of it.

Weiss said Friday her department is looking at what that entails and whether it means her department can take further action.

"You can be assured that any mechanism that is available to us to address this crisis, I will find a way to make sure I use those mechanisms — that we save lives."

Manitoba’s acting chief medical examiner, Dr. John Younes, clarified a Free Press report that testing for opioids such as fentanyl must be done out of province because Winnipeg lacked adequate testing equipment.

More specifically, fentanyl overdose deaths can be confirmed in Winnipeg testing, but cases involving newer variations of opioid strains must be shipped out of province.

"We are capable of testing for the drug fentanyl in our lab in Manitoba and we have been for a number of years," he said Friday.

Manitoba ships out carfentanil and other newer fentanyl-related drugs in overdose deaths that can’t be properly identified here.

"Clandestine labs are making powdered forms and mixing it with other drugs, and they’re tweaking the existing fentanyl formulas and coming up with new forms like carfentanil," the doctor said.

"I’m aware of six or seven of them (new forms of fentanyl-like drugs) in various jurisdictions in the United States. In Western Canada, there’s also a new one called furanyl. As they keep popping up, we’ll have to keep coming up with new screening protocols to keep up with it," Younes said.

He also updated the cost of new laboratory equipment, saying the final price tag is about $1 million.

He said he expects Manitoba to have the new equipment operating early next year after software with screening protocols is in place.

— with files from Alexandra Paul

mia.rabson@freepress.mb.ca

alexandra.Paul@freepress.mb.ca

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us