B.C. Premier Christy Clark brings opioid concerns to Ottawa

published on November 17, 2016 by Catherine Cullen in CBC News

Meeting with federal cabinet ministers and officials included advocates and families hit by overdose deaths

As British Columbia reels under the weight of an opioid crisis, its politicians have come to Ottawa to encourage, cajole and perhaps even try to shame federal officials into doing more to help.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark met with federal officials on Thursday, flanked not only by her health minister and addictions experts, but also by three people whose lives have been shaken by opioids such as fentanyl “” a woman who lost her son to an overdose, another whose step-son is in recovery and a recovering addict who lost her boyfriend and best friend to drugs.

If the emotional effect of hearing their experiences isn’t enough, B.C. is also asserting very public, political pressure.

The province’s health minister, Terry Lake, told a private radio station yesterday that there would have been “much greater federal action” if the crisis had hit Ontario with the same force as it hit his province.

Speaking to reporters after the hour-long meeting with federal officials Thursday, B.C.’s premier didn’t go quite as far.

“I think that British Columbia has always suffered from being the province that is farthest away from the decision-making in Canada,” Clark said, but added that the crisis has caught everyone by surprise.

Clark also said she believes federal officials really do understand the urgency of the problem and said the federal health minister helped save some 3,000 lives by making it easier to access the medication that can temporarily reverse an opioid overdose.

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