Associate Health Minister Brandy Payne is one of many politicians who spent two days in Ottawa for the national conference on opioid use.
One of the biggest challenges discussed was how to get exact data on how many people are being affected, and where they are.
Payne told the Alberta Morning News while other provinces’ data is far behind, Alberta is much more on top of things.
“We recently released the quarterly statistics and they now include not only the number of overdose deaths, but it also has information broken down by geography, we have information by postal code within city,” Payne said. “So we have a little bit more of a picture of who’s being affected.”
Payne said it’s risky to try and get those stats more frequently than quarterly. If officials rush to get stats out, they may not accurately reflect what’s going on.
“If we were to have data released more frequently, we can’t guarantee the accuracy of that data,” she explained. “We find that the quarterly report kind of strikes that balance of trying to have it updated regularly but, at the same time, making sure those are accurate numbers we’re looking at.”
Discussions at the conference showed Payne the problems that Alberta is facing are the same across the country. She said many at the event were on board with steps that need to be taken to combat the rising death toll.
“We need to have access, for example, to supervised consumption services to deal with chronic and inner city drug users, while at the same time we need to have access to take home Naloxone kits at community pharmacies to help support the suburban users who might be using drugs recreationally.”