New statistics released by the province show that 113 people died from fentanyl overdoses in the first three months of this year.
The numbers show that the crisis in Alberta continues to grow in both size and scope.
By comparison, there were 70 fentanyl-related deaths in the first three months of 2016.
The latest statistics, released Friday by Alberta Health, show that 363 people in Alberta died from fentanyl overdoses in 2016. Those numbers reflect the most recent data available. In its update, Alberta Health said the numbers are subject to change because certification about the cause of death can take six months or longer.
The Alberta Health statistics report shows that fentanyl, 100 times more powerful than morphine, is by far the leading cause of opioid overdose deaths in the province.
But deaths related to another, even more powerful drug, are also rising sharply.
Carfentanil, which is 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl, was detected in 21 deaths in the first three months of 2017. That drug, commonly used by veterinarians to tranquillize large animals, was detected in 29 deaths during all of 2016.
Soon after the latest numbers became public, Alberta opposition parties renewed calls for the government to take stronger action.
“This is an issue where we have to start marshalling the resources of this province,” said Wildrose mental health critic Mark Smith. “And one of the things that we could be doing that we’ve called for is declaring a public health emergency. They’ve done that in B.C. But mysteriously, we’re not sure why the NDP seem to be very reluctant in calling a public health emergency.
“We need to start addressing this through many different areas, through a public health emergency, by making sure we’ve got our doctors and nurses trained to deal with this. We need to start attacking this with the seriousness in which the numbers in this report indicate.”
Dr. Karen Grimsrud, the…