'We need to step up our game': Liberal Leader says response to fentanyl crisis falls short

Liberal Leader David Swann says the Alberta government's newest measures to deal with the fentanyl crisis, announced Tuesday, are not enough.

343 people in Alberta died of apparent drug overdoses related to fentanyl last year

Liberal Leader Dr. David Swann says the province is falling short in its response to the opioid crisis. (CBC)

The Alberta government's latest measures to deal with the ongoing fentanyl crisis are not enough, says Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann.

Swann, a medical doctor, spoke to the Calgary Eyeopener Wednesday, a day after the province announced greater access to naloxone kits, and grants to support agencies establishing supervised consumption sites.  

The government said Tuesday 343 people died of apparent drug overdoses related to fentanyl last year, up from 257 in 2015.

"We need to step up our game. We need to coordinate more effectively, and we need to put more resources into this critical issue that takes, now, one life a day in Alberta," Swann said.

While it's "nice" there's now greater access to naloxone, Swann said more help is needed. 

"It is in no way a substitute for access to comprehensive, coordinated services that people need to start to heal and start to come to grips with a very tough disease called addiction," he said.

Last fall, Swann called on the Alberta government to declare a public health state of emergency to tackle what he called a fentanyl addiction epidemic.

He also held a town hall meeting last October about the fentanyl crisis.

On Wednesday, Swann estimated less than 10 per cent of the people in the province with addictions are getting treatment.

"Clearly there's a big gap in access and focus for people with this disease," he said.

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener