January 12th, 2018

NDP demands immediate action on the opioid crisis

NDP Health Critic, Don Davies, made the following statement:

“In 2017, it is estimated there were almost 4,000 opioid overdose deaths in Canada - a new record that is far above previous estimates and a sharp increase from 2016 when 2,861 Canadians lost their lives. This is a shocking number, especially unacceptable considering that many of these deaths are preventable.

Research recently released by the Angus Reid Institute shows that one in eight Canadians – nearly 3.5 million people – have close friends or family members who have become dependent on opioids in the last five years.

However, fewer than one in four Canadians believe that the federal government has ‘responded appropriately’ to this issue. Canada’s New Democrats agree.

In 2009, when 428 deaths were caused by the H1N1 flu virus in Canada, an Emergency Operations Centre was mobilized 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Yet, with nine times the death toll from opioids, the federal government has not taken a similar step. The federal government spent $322-million on the H1N1 campaign. Despite a far more entrenched emergency today, the federal government has spent one-third of this amount.

New Democrats have called for a federal declaration of a national public health emergency for over a year. We have urged the commitment of significant new dollars and resources to combat what is inarguably a deepening, serious crisis that is affecting every region of the country.

It is clear that the vast majority of Canadians support these measures. It’s time for the federal government to recognize this and take action.”