B.C.'s fentanyl fight getting $10-million boost from feds
Published Friday, February 17, 2017 11:16AM PST
Last Updated Friday, February 17, 2017 4:47PM PST
B.C. is getting a $10-million boost in funding to help curb the opioid crisis gripping the province.
Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott made the announcement Friday, saying the funds will be provided to aid the province's emergency response.
She also pledged $65 million from Ottawa to fight fentanyl across the country.
Although fatal fentanyl overdoses dropped 18 per cent from December to January, the toll of 116 people is still the third-highest on record, according to the BC Coroner Service.
B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake said an additional $5 million in fentanyl funding will be announced in the upcoming provincial budget, on top of the millions of dollars already dedicated to the cause.
"It is a staggering amount of money, but it's an even more staggering human toll. We can't be complacent and we need to continue to do more," he said.
Of those who died last month, 80 per cent were male, and most victims were between the ages of 30 and 49. Most were drug dependent, and didn't succeed in kicking drugs through treatment programs available, according to Chief coroner Lisa Lapointe.
Lapointe believes that the province should consider the possibility of providing medical-grade heroin to a select group of users where nothing else has worked, a suggestion brought forward by the province's medical health officer, Dr. Perry Kendall.
The coroner strongly cautioned casual drug users to avoid experimentation.
"The continuing high number of deaths shows that the risks remain extreme," she said.
A total of 914 people suffered fatal overdoses in B.C. in 2016.
Data provided by the BC Coroners Service