BC wants federal crackdown on fentanyl trafficking to fight crisis

published on July 27, 2016 by The Canadian Press in Maclean's

In the last six months, the BC coroners’ service says deaths from apparent illicit drug overdose have spiked 74 per cent from last year

VANCOUVER – Overdose deaths have climbed to such an urgent level in British Columbia that the province needs help from the federal government to deal with a public health emergency, Premier Christy Clark says.

Clark told a news conference Thursday she wants Ottawa to restrict access to devices involved with drug production, such as pill presses and tableting machines, and to pursue stronger penalties against people who import and traffic fentanyl.

Clark also called on the federal government to ask the Canada Border Services Agency to search small packages, including envelopes, for fentanyl in order to stop the drug from entering the country.

Recent statistics from the coroners’ service in BC show there were 371 deaths from apparent illicit drug overdose in the first six months of this year, about a 74-per-cent increase compared with the same period last year.

The service said the proportion of deaths where toxicology tests detected fentanyl jumped to about 60 per cent and that the drug was either used alone or in combination with other drugs.

“That scope is alarming. It’s frightening and it’s something that all of us should be concerned about,” Clark said at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, where she was flanked by police, ambulance and firefighting officials, as well as addiction experts.

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