The Alberta Liberal leader is appalled after Alberta Justice rejected requests for information on fentanyl and other opioid deaths in the province.
The Liberals made a Freedom of Information and Privacy (FOIP) request in early August. Alberta Justice has refused the request saying the Justice Department saying, “We are unable to provide [these] records … as the information requested would have to be created and the workload to obtain such data would unreasonably interfere with the operations of the Chief Medical Examiner.”
Alberta Liberal Leader Dr. David Swann we need some understanding about ages, ethnicities, health issues and other factors involved in opioid deaths or we can’t deal with the problem. “There are a very complex array of problems for people in dealing with opiates. And we have a complex array of individuals, professionals and organizations trying to come grips with it. They can’t do anything effective if they don’t have the information.”
Swann says there isn’t one database from which results can be called. “That’s part of the challenge here. We’ve got the Justice department examining the dead bodies and doing the blood testing on what drugs were involved. We’ve got another department, the Health department, providing the public the information… and we’ve got a third department, Human Services, that’s responsible for supports in the Community.” He says unless there’s a co-ordinated approach, “we continue to stumble along and see the increases in number of deaths and the number of cases where… naloxone is being given just to resuscitate a person after they’ve overdosed. This is not acceptable management.”
Swann says Albertans are dying at a rate of almost one per day and is repeating his call to declare a Public Health Emergency to deal with the opioid crisis. “If not that, then show us what else is going to work, because the current approach is not working. It’s appalling that they would continue to tell us that they’re collecting statistics or that they are working together when there’s no evidence that’s happening. The numbers are increasing, so show us the evidence.”