Health Minister Deb Matthews says Canada has a national emergency on opioid abuse and a $10 million plan to address it.
She says the country has the highest overdose death rate in the world.
Matthews says there’s a growing need for a national strategy and a new strategy is being developed by the country’s medical services minister.
“We’ve been looking for a way to manage the issue of opioid abuse for a long time.
We’ve been asking ourselves what we can do to make sure that we don’t get in the way of those efforts, that we’re not creating unnecessary harm, that our medical services are able to effectively address the situation,” Matthews told reporters Monday.
“That’s why we’re introducing legislation right now to create a national health strategy and to get it together to deal with the issue.
And the national strategy will be a comprehensive approach that addresses all the aspects of the issue.”
Matthews says she believes Canada has the world’s highest overdose deaths and will take steps to reduce that number.
“What we know for sure is that there is a need for change and we will take those steps in order to help those people who are struggling, who are in pain,” Matthews said.
Matthews has been talking about the opioid crisis for years, and says it’s not just a national issue.
“I know it’s been talked about for years.
But we’ve got to address this issue, we’ve already done so,” Matthews added.
The federal government says it is committed to addressing the problem.
A recent report from the federal health department found Canada’s overall opioid prescription rate was higher than the United States and nearly four times that of other countries.
In 2014, Canada had one of the highest rate of opioid prescription for people in their 60s and older in the industrialized world, and the highest prescription rates for people aged 50 to 64.
In 2018, there were 3,569 prescriptions written for opioid painkillers in Canada.