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Pictured above: PAULINE FROST and KATE WHITE

YG secures $500,000 to curtail opioid abuse

As the territory puts the finishing touches on an agreement with the feds for help in curbing opioid deaths and overdoses, the government is considering a number of options to include in that strategy.

By Palak Mangat on October 31, 2018

As the territory puts the finishing touches on an agreement with the feds for help in curbing opioid deaths and overdoses, the government is considering a number of options to include in that strategy.

Among them are Narcan, a nasal spray version of Nalaxone that’s available for free in other areas of the country.

That includes Ontario pharmacies, which, as of March 2018, can dispense both the spray and injectable Nalaxone emergency kits.

With B.C. and the feds allowing the spray as part of the Naloxone programs, Health and Social Services Minister Pauline Frost was pressed by the Yukon NDP Tuesday for something similar.

“We will certainly bring that forward as a consideration as we look at the strategies and prioritizing initiatives,” Frost said in response to Kate White in the legislature.

White, the Takhini-Kopper King MLA, also wondered if the government would commit to more regular reporting on deaths and overdoses.

“It’s not just young people who are dying: it affects every aspect of our community,” she said.

The Yukon has seen 16 opioid-related deaths in fewer than three years.

White acknowledged that Heather Jones, the territory’s acting chief coroner, has said there is often a months-long delay (about four) in getting toxicology reports.

While the numbers may not be the most up-to-date, White pressed Frost to regularly report on these overdoses.

In response, Frost pointed out that the Yukon is relatively smaller than areas like B.C. and Alberta. But it’s also about respecting the process and time needed for those involved.

“We also need to recognize the sensitivities, as we have families grieving,” Frost said.

Information and public statements are best made after people and causes have been identified with the utmost accuracy, she added.

“I’m not prepared to do that at the moment, but I will do that in partnership with the coroners office and chief medical officer (Brenday Hanley),” Frost said.

Speaking to reporters shortly after, the minister reiterated her statements.

“As soon as something happens, if we make an announcement ... it really for me, it’s about being sensitive to the needs of families as they grieve.”

The minister also worried whether it could paint an inaccurate picture, perhaps suggesting it’s only common in one area or targets a certain demographic crowd.

“Immediate alerting of information could be misleading to the public because fentanyl is everywhere,” she said. “It doesn’t discriminate – we don’t know where it is, we just know that it’s out there.

As for details of the strategy itself, the government is keeping the details under wraps until it’s formally announced and finalized. But Frost did say it amounts to a sum commitment with Ottawa.

“We’re just finalizing the arrangement right now; it’s taken some time for us to get here,” Frost said.

“They’ve committed to working with us to access $500,000 on treatment programs and preventative programs,” she explained, noting the scope of that is still being worked out.

An announcement is expected shortly, but she hopes the money will begin heading to the territory within the next six weeks.

“We are focusing on harm reduction, public awareness, surveillance and health and social systems reform,” she mentioned earlier in the legislature Tuesday, in efforts to tackle the crisis head-on.

Part of that reform may include the government’s comprehensive health care review, which Frost explained is made up of multiple phases and is already underway.

The first (June to September) consisted mainly of government-to-government engagement and preliminary research. Meanwhile, August to September will focus on internal research, with a more detailed look at the supports currently in place.

“At the end of October, we will have comprehensive final report and an implementation plan.”

Frost called it premature to say how much that review would cost the government, but said it’s being done with the aim to “address efficiencies.” She hopes to have an announcement within the next couple weeks.

The review itself is set to be completed by the fall of 2019.

Comments (9)

Up 9 Down 2

30 years here and can't find a doctor... on Nov 6, 2018 at 10:58 am

It's a shame that a person can't get a doctor in the Yukon but the government "secures" funding to save a bunch of drug addicts that don't want saving. Come on Liberal Party how about taking care of the tax payers??

Up 9 Down 1

Bandit on Nov 6, 2018 at 8:36 am

"The Yukon has seen 16 opioid-related deaths in fewer than three years."
That's a slow weekend in the DTES. Vancouver reports that many in a 24hr period. How about reporting how much is spent on Narcan or Naloxone to revive the overdosed person so they can survive another day to unfortunately someday become another statistic. It's sad but it is the facts.
How about making Epipens available at no cost to a child that was born severely allergic and could die from exposure to a substance other than one that was self administered? I am not trying to minimize the issue, just trying to say the tough things that nobody wants to say.

Up 6 Down 3

Seriously! on Nov 5, 2018 at 10:52 pm

Seriously a non-issue. If you choose to be addicted you suffer the consequences. Why should I pay for your abuses?

Now I can pay for these addicts to have abortions and to continue their drug abusing lifestyle by keeping them alive when they OD... SMH - Give them needles, socks and underwear. Tiny homes too let us not forget. Let us stop harassing impaired drivers and buy them new cars when they smash them up. Stitch them mend them and send them back to the front lines.

Canada’s most northern zoo - The Yukon - Where you can see the sprawling herds of Opioid Humanoids, the Booze Crews, and the Reefers in their natural environments. Feel free to collect some souvenirs off the streets. If you are having difficulty finding some of the northern treasures be mindful of the time of day. But remember this tip - When looking for beer cans, liquor bottles, needles and other souvenirs the best places to find them are school grounds and other places where children gather.

Up 9 Down 2

Stop wasting money on Nov 5, 2018 at 12:02 pm

What a waste of money. People will do drugs because they want to - whether is addiction or just to try them. They all think "it'll never happen to me". The way to curb the addiction is to stop drug dealers.

And as far as prescribed opioids, offer treatment plans to those who did get addicted--it's not always intentional. I do not want to say to ban them because they are there for a reason and sometimes are the only solution to pain.

Up 9 Down 1

Max Mack on Nov 5, 2018 at 10:49 am

"16 opioid-related deaths in fewer than three years"
That means that opioids have been detected through lab analysis. It does NOT mean that the death was due to opioid overdose. It doesn't even necessarily mean that opioids were a significant contributory factor in the death.

I'm not saying that this isn't an issue, but folks need to be aware that "opioid-related" simply means that opioids were found to be present.

Up 10 Down 0

Groucho d'North on Nov 4, 2018 at 11:51 am

I hope the spending of this windfall is monitored and the results are audited at the conclusion of the programming by a third party.

Up 9 Down 7

Doug Ryder on Nov 3, 2018 at 5:33 pm

The opioid addiction problem will correct itself once the Liberals are voted out of office.
Frost has done jack... In fact Jack Frost seems a suitable monicker for the would-be politician.

Up 9 Down 6

Had enough of this on Nov 2, 2018 at 12:32 pm

Frost is failing; in way over her head. She doesn't have the ability to plan ahead because she's already too taxed with the immediate. Either her work load is too great or she's just not the person for the job.

Up 10 Down 3

My Opinion on Nov 1, 2018 at 10:14 am

Lots of Millions of Dollars being committed to these days isn't there?

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