The Sask Party’s response to the fentanyl crisis


author: taylor balfour | news writer

its all about health Jeremy Davis

NDP criticial of ruling party’s stance

“There’s no such thing as a safe street drug,” HealthLine’s fentanyl warning poster states. The poster also warns about how “you can’t see it, smell it, or taste it.” 

According to the Government of Saskatchewan’s website, “fentanyl is an opioid that is 50-100 times more toxic than other opioids,” and it’s outbreak around the province, and the world, continues to grow. 

In late 2017, it was reported that Saskatchewan is second-highest province in the country for prescribing fentanyl. A year prior, HealthLine released a report entitled, “Frequently Asked Questions About Fentanyl,” detailing how and why fentanyl is a dangerous drug. 

The piece explains under a subsection entitled, “Why are you giving this information now?” that “fentanyl can be very toxic and there has been a rise in the number of fentanyl-related deaths in Saskatchewan and Canada. This means that there may be more of this drug in our province, which can increase the danger, especially to people who use illegal drugs.” 

Many are asking what the Sask. Party is planning on doing to tackle the issue. The Saskatoon StarPhoenix wrote an editorial this month about the substance abuse programs and mental health services in the province, and how they both “must get the attention it deserves as an issue.” 

Many people, including the Saskatchewan New Democrats, believe that the Sask Party isn’t doing enough.  

“Definitely not,” Katelynn Kowalchuk, the president of the Saskatchewan Young New Democrats said. “This crisis is ravaging both urban and rural Saskatchewan, and the Sask. Party response has been slow and ad hoc.” 

“The Sask. Party government should be doing more to provide supports for people at risk of opioid and fentanyl.”  

In most cases, fentanyl is a pain medication prescribed by doctors. Most commonly it is given to cancer patients in pain.  

“Because of the strength of this drug, a health care provider must very carefully monitor the dose to make sure that the person does not overdose,” the government’s website describes. 

It even goes onto state that “legal, prescribed fentanyl is dangerous when it is not used properly.” 

Despite the death toll of fentanyl-related deaths going up, in the Sask. Party’s budget for 2018-19, there is no new funding issued to assist the issue. The NDP party sees this as a great issue. Thanks to this, they have been pushing for their own plans to be recognized. 

“The Sask. NDP is pushing for increased funding for mental health and addictions to ensure that people who are struggling can access the help they need,” Kowalchuk explained.  

The types of assistance they wish to offer are “increased availability of Narcan kits to reduce the number of fatal overdoses, and restoring lost funding to community-based organizations like AIDS Saskatoon that work on the front lines of this issue.”

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