With overdose deaths spiking in Saskatchewan under the Sask. Party’s failed approach, the NDP is calling for a strategy for community safety and dedicated action to address the increase of opioids and crystal meth addictions in Saskatchewan.
“We’ve seen the devastating toll that addiction takes on communities and families, but without a clear and comprehensive strategy, this crisis will continue to rage,” said NDP Mental Health and Addictions Critic Danielle Chartier. “A strategy starts with providing improved access to naloxone kits, eliminating the wait times for detox and between detox and treatment, and introducing dedicated mental health and addictions emergency rooms, so patients with mental health and addictions issues receive timely care instead of getting triaged to the bottom and waiting longer for treatment. When someone struggling with addiction asks for help, that help needs to be there immediately, not several weeks later.”
In the past two months the 2020 toll of overdose deaths in Regina has nearly doubled, from 33 to 63 — a significant increase from the 21 deaths reported in 2019. Regina police have responded to 712 overdoses so far this year, up from 82 for all of 2019. In committee, Chartier learned the number of admissions to in-patient addictions for crystal meth rose from 3 per cent in 2012-13 up to 30.58 per cent in 2017-18.
The government has chosen not to fund safe consumption sites in the province in their 2020 budget. And in addition to the skyrocketing number of overdoses in Regina and Saskatoon, advocates have been sounding the alarm about an acute lack of access to treatments in Northern, remote, and rural communities as well.
“The Sask. Party has been ignoring these problems for years, and we know that their playbook of cuts and austerity will only mean more people falling through the cracks,” Chartier said. “An addictions strategy is desperately needed, and any further delay simply means more Saskatchewan people will die.”