Liberals face pressure to act on safer drug supply amid opioid-related deaths
This Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017 file photo shows an arrangement of pills of the opioid oxycodone-acetaminophen in New York. (AP / Patrick Sison)
Kristy Kirkup, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, February 27, 2019 12:11PM EST
OTTAWA - The Trudeau government is facing pressure to make safer opioids available to people who use street drugs as overdose deaths continue to increase.
The push is coming from public-health advocates and from at least one Liberal MP from Toronto, Nathaniel Erksine-Smith.
British Columbia's provincial health officer has called for Ottawa to look at the issue of supply, saying B.C. and other parts of the country are grappling with a poisonous street-drug supply that is killing people because they can't tell what's in the drugs they use.
Richard Elliott, the executive director of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, said it is necessary to address the toxicity of the drug supply to reduce the number of deaths.
His organization was part of a coalition that pointed to toxicology results from across Canada showing opioids on the illegal market are often contaminated with extra-potent fentanyl.
Health Canada said in a statement that its minister, Ginette Petitpas Taylor, asked officials in the fall to explore options to address the toxic supply.