B.C. steps up drug overdose response, seeks federal help [with VIDEO]

Task force created, Ottawa under pressure to act to restrict pill presses, unchecked importation of small packages of fentanyl

Packaged fentanyl seized by Calgary Police.




A new overdose response task force has been created by the B.C. government as officials step up their attempts to reduce the surge in deaths from illicit drug use.

Provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall and director of police services Clayton Pecknold will head the task force, which is to provide expert leadership and advice to the province on what more can be done.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark is also urging the federal government to take action.

“While we are leading the country in addressing this issue, families are still losing loved ones to senseless and tragic drug overdoses,” she said.

RELATED: Drug overdose deaths surge 74 per cent so far in 2016 Drug consumption sites to be part of Fraser strategy on overdoses

The province wants Ottawa to make it easier to quickly create new supervised consumption sites in B.C.

Clark is also urging the federal government to restrict access to pill presses and tableting machines, which currently are legal to possess.

B.C. also wants the feds to tighten control of precursor materials to make fentanyl, create escalating charges for importing and trafficking the often-deadly synthetic opioid, and ensure Canada Border Services Agency has the right tools to detect incoming fentanyl.

Health Minster Terry Lake said fentanyl can be ordered over the internet and delivered by mail in small packages under 30 grams that the CBSA is powerless to open.

“Because this is such a powerful drug, it doesn’t take very much in order to make the pills that we see on the street today,” he said.

Packages of fentanyl seized by Calgary Police.

Fentanyl is much more powerful than heroin and is believed to be arriving from Asia, usually in powdered form before being pressed into pills here. Users often believe they are taking something else, such as oxycontin, ecstasy or cocaine that turn out to be laced with more potent fentanyl.

A testing service is to be set up to help people find out if their drugs are contaminated with unexpected substances, such as fentanyl.

There were 371 drug overdose deaths in the first half of the year, a dramatic increase that prompted the declaration of a public health emergency earlier this spring. About 60 per cent of the deaths have been tied to fentanyl.

Provincial partners have been actively distributing take-home naloxone kits that can be used to reverse an overdose – more than 10,000 of the kits have been distributed so far in B.C.

As of July 1, it’s become easier for doctors to prescribe Suboxone to treat opioid addiction.

Fraser Health earlier this month said it would identify priority locations for new supervised injection or consumption sites in Surrey and potentially other drug-troubled urban areas in the region, and work with local municipalities to secure support.

A report from a recent meeting on potential overdose responses released by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control says expansion of supervised sites beyond Vancouver is “urgent” in view of the overdose epidemic and federal legislation created by the former Conservative federal government that encumbers the process of permitting new sites is a “significant barrier to rapid expansion of these services.”

Participants at the overdose response meeting recommended creating mobile sites as well as safe consumption rooms at every homeless shelter.

There are so far no supervised drug use sites in the Fraser Health region.

There have been more overdose deaths in Fraser – 114 in the first six months of the year  – than any other region of the province, and Fraser also accounts for the most fentanyl-linked deaths so far this year.

Just Posted

Surrey killer foiled by cops’ suspicion he was underage in a bar

Birinderjeet Singh Bhangu was shot dead outside the Comfort Inn and Suites Hotel on Fraser Highway

Community invited to help with Downtown Surrey BIA’s fence art project

Association is hoping to change the ‘narrative’ for 135A Street with artwork

Blaine railway stop contingent on international support: All Aboard Washington

Non-profit organizers look to residents of Surrey, White Rock and North Whatcom County

Delta man charged after police surround Tsawwassen home

Troy Kevin Reimer, 52, is charged with one count of uttering or conveying a threat to cause death or bodily harm

Bureaucracy leaves Whalley Legion members thirsty

Legion’s new location needs liquor licence, despite being down street from former digs

VIDEO: B.C. MLA Michelle Stilwell takes first steps in nearly 30 years

‘It actually felt like walking. It’s been 27 years… but it felt realistic to me’

Report of dead body in B.C. park actually headless sex doll

This discovery, made at Manning Park on July 10, led police to uncovering two other sex mannequins

Grand Forks fire chief found to have bullied, harassed volunteer firefighter: report

WorkSafeBC, third-party human resources investigation looking into allegations complete

Dog recovering after being drenched in hot coffee, B.C. man charged

Man was taken into custody, charged, and released pending a court date

Taekwondo instructor, 21, identified as B.C. bat rabies victim

Nick Major, 21, an instructor at Cascadia Martial Arts in Parksville

Science expedition to Canada’s largest underwater volcano departs Vancouver Island

Crews prepared for a two-week research mission to the Explorer Seamount

B.C. shipyard to get one-third of $1.5 billion frigate-repair contract

The federal government has promised to invest $7.5 billion to maintain the 12 frigates

Worried about bats? Here’s what to do if you come across one in B.C.

Bat expert with the BC Community Bat Program urges caution around the small creatures

B.C. on right road with tougher ride-hailing driver rules, says expert

The provincial government is holding firm that ride-hailing drivers have a Class 4 licence

Most Read

l -->