The Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Morris and Minister of Health Terry Lake issued the following statement on the overdose crisis:
“We are pleased to report today the RCMP and Chinese Ministry of Public Safety announced their commitment to work together to co-ordinate enforcement efforts against illegal fentanyl trafficking into Canada. China is also co-operating with our federal government to make precursors to fentanyl controlled substances under Chinese law.
“This is a critical step that aligns with B.C.’s advocacy in our fight against the overdose crisis, and we welcome this swift action. Provincial and local enforcement will remain critical, but this is a step forward. We look forward to the same level of commitment from the federal government on a national strategy to ban pill presses and precursors.
“Premier Christy Clark was in Ottawa last week, calling on the federal government to assert diplomatic pressure on China to stem the production and export of fentanyl and other highly dangerous synthetic opioids. We also want to ensure RCMP has the proper supports in place to strengthen bilateral law enforcement and interdiction efforts between these countries. Federal officials assured us they are committed to act on recommendations brought forward by the Province.
“We understand discussions to formalize joint investigations between the RCMP and China will begin next week during the ongoing Canada-China Working Group meeting between the two agencies. We believe that by collaborating with our international and federal partners, enforcement will ultimately be stronger across all our provincial and international borders.
“The overdose crisis is a complex issue that no single tool will solve. That’s why B.C. established the Joint Task Force on Overdose Response, which is tackling the overdose crisis across many fronts. Law enforcement is working at all levels of government to interdict the supply of toxic drugs, and health officials are working diligently to address the immediate health needs. To that end, B.C. is expanding access to life-saving naloxone, supervised consumption services, and opioid addiction treatment medications and services.
“We launched a broad campaign to alert people of how to prevent, identify and respond to overdoses. We are investing in research, education and training through the new B.C. Centre on Substance Use, to ensure addiction treatment is effective and evidence-based. And we remain firmly committed to improving the system of mental health and substance use services, including our commitment to create 500 new substance use beds, which we will reach in 2017 as promised.”