Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson joins national fentanyl task force

Edmonton mayor Don Iveson is teaming up with mayors of a dozen major Canadian cities to launch a task force against the opioid crisis.

Canadian big city mayors form national task force to share best practices combatting opioid crisis

Vancouver firefighters Jason Lynch and Jay Jakubec work to revive an addict who has already had two doses of Narcan after overdosing on fentanyl on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. (CBC)

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson is teaming up with mayors from a dozen major Canadian cities to launch a national fentanyl task force.

"We need strong leadership from federal and provincial governments to co-ordinate with cities and urgently invest in the solutions to stop the epidemic," Iveson said in a statement to CBC.

That includes addictions treatment, supportive housing, prevention and drug policy reform, he said.

The big city mayors' caucus of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, which Iveson chairs, wants to share experiences and best practices in an effort to stem the escalating number of opioid overdose deaths in Canada.

​In Alberta, 338 people died from opioid overdoses in the first nine months of 2016. More than half of those deaths were related to fentanyl, according to Alberta Health.

"I want to build a unified solution to this national crisis, working with federal and provincial counterparts to identify best practices, put appropriate resources and services in place and prevent more deaths," Iveson said.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson will head the initiative. 

The task force will meet with federal B.C. Health Minister Jane Philpott and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, though a date has not yet been set.

Representatives from the provinces and territories will also be invited to attend.

With files from The Canadian Press