Pubdate: Sun, 23 Oct 2016
Source: Winnipeg Sun (CN MB)
Copyright: 2016 Canoe Limited Partnership
Page: 10


Manitoba stands on the edge of a opioid crisis that promises tragedy
for families across the province and we're about to tumble into that
dark abyss.

Fentanyl is ripping through Winnipeg streets and is so prevalent and
dangerous that the Winnipeg Police Service is considering having
officers carry naxolone, an opiate antidote.

That news comes on the heels of a pair of deaths that were linked to
carfentanil, which is touted as 100 times as potent as fentanyl, which
is itself already said to be 100 times stronger than morphine.

To suggest the opioid issue in Manitoba isn't reaching dangerous
proportions is to be sticking your head in the sand.

Police said in early October at least three overdose deaths in a
single week were due to fentanyl.

Police may deal with more marijuana, more cocaine, more
methamphetamine, but we are increasingly seeing the real damage being
done in our streets due to opiates, which have been previously sold on
the street to unsuspecting users looking for other

It should be alarming that the equivalent of 50 million lethal doses
of carfentanil was seized recently by Mounties.

And it's not surprising that some - like the opposition NDP, who last
week called for the Tories to launch an anti-opiate strategy - are
becoming frustrated with the reluctance on the part of the province to
declare a public health emergency around the drug.

"The number of overdoses and deaths related to the use of this highly
potent opioid are continuing to increase dramatically across Canada
and in Manitoba," NDP MLA Matt Wiebe said. "Last year, 29 deaths
occurred in Manitoba as a result of fentanyl use. That's nearly double
the average rate over the five years from 2009 to 2013 and it's
devastating for the families affected by this epidemic."

While there is no doubt need on the drug treatment side, there needs
to be a province-wide strategy to try to help prevent deaths.

Further, this is something all the provinces, the federal government,
and the law enforcement community need to work together on.

As the country seems to be in the process of an overhaul of its drug
enforcement strategy around marijuana, resources can hopefully be
diverted to other, very dangerous, areas.

But here at home, even as the province faces fiscal hard times, it is
an issue that cannot be ignored, or short-changed.

There is no good reason to see more people die, to see more families
suffer the tragedy of losing a loved one.

It won't be easy, but it's worth the fight.
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MAP posted-by: Matt