There is a renewed push for the Alberta government to declare a public health emergency in the province to deal with the fentanyl crisis.
The call comes from the PC party today as police and health care professionals gather in Calgary for a national two day conference on fentanyl.
But Alberta Justice Minister Kathleen Kanley reiterated the government position against such a declaration, saying that would be more appropriate in the event of a contagious disease outbreak.
” None of those powers will assist us in this case, but they do give the government significant ability to violate civil liberties.”
Mike Ellis, PC MLA for Calgary West says those rights could be protected.
“Just because it’s there doesn’t mean you have to act on those powers. I focus on the education component of this. I’ve been calling for this (declaration) for more than a year and following in suit with what British Columbia has done. More awareness is a good thing.”
Meanwhile Calgary’s police chief says if Alberta doesn’t get on top of the fentanyl crisis, the province will bear the consequences for a long time.
Chief Roger Chaffin was talking to News Talk 770’s Danielle Smith.
Chaffin says they’ve had success going after the suppliers of the drug, but it will continue to be a problem until there’s more help for addicts and more education.
“This is not a problem that can be solved by bigger jails and more arrests. That is part of the solution but the bigger part of the solution is that everyone has a common understanding of what these issues are. This is an Alberta problem, this is a public health crisis problem, its a community wellness problem.”
— News Talk 770 (@NewsTalk770) October 17, 2016
Chaffin says this is not an elite drug affecting a small segment of the population. It’s inexpensive, and its relatively easy to get.
“It’s not a small, narrow community of people, it’s all over the city. It’s in different age ranges, people in their 60s to young teenagers and you just can’t go to an area and say ‘hey, that’s where all our opioid addicts are’, that’s the challenging part. ”
There have been over 150 deaths in Alberta in the first half of a year attributed to fentanyl use.