The federal government announced an additional $6 million for the province of Alberta to help respond to the growing opioid crisis and its impact on communities.
Ottawa said Friday this amount builds on the $75 million in federal funding previous announced.
The Government of Canada has also provided B.C. with $10 million in emergency funding.
Ottawa’s Opioid Action Plan will see $65 million over five years support federal initiatives.
“Every day we are seeing the impact of the opioid epidemic on families and communities,” said Ralph Goodale, minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. “We will continue to work together with all our partners to stop the illegal drug flow and battle against the misuse of these drugs.
“We support the province of Alberta in its efforts to fight this dreadful scourge.”
According to Ottawa, the overdose crisis is driven by two things: the emergence of fentanyl and other powerful illicit opioid drugs and high level of addiction caused, in part, by “inappropriate prescribing practices and poor education about the risks.”
Earlier this week, Alberta’s opposition parties said the government is losing the battle against opioids like fentanyl and must declare a public health emergency.
But Associate Health Minister Brandy Payne insisted calling a public health emergency won’t help. She said the province already has the authority to make the necessary administrative changes to fight the rise in opioid addictions.
She also said the province was negotiating with the federal government for a share of the $65 million recently announced to help provinces to fight fentanyl – a painkiller for terminally ill cancer patients and 100 times more powerful than heroin.
“With the growing toll the opioid crisis is taking on Alberta communities, our government is focused on taking every action we can to save lives,” Alberta Health Minister Sarah Hoffman said. “This support from the federal government is crucial in supporting our work to expand treatment to more Albertans affected by substance use.”
The province said 343 people died from apparent fentanyl overdoses last year – a 25 per cent increase from 257 deaths in 2015.
With files from Slav Kornik, Global News