EDMONTON — The Alberta Liberals want the province to declare an emergency after a new report shows a growing number drug overdose deaths linked to fentanyl.
The government report says 349 people died in the province last year from the street opioid painkiller.
In the first six weeks of this year there were 51 deaths — almost twice the number during the same time last year.
Liberal Leader David Swann says the numbers are very troubling because such deaths are preventable.
Swann, a physician and former medical officer of health, says the Alberta government needs to do more to deal with the crisis.
He says Alberta should have a mental health and addiction officer and develop a co-ordinated strategy to reduce such deaths.
"We need increased public education efforts and timelier access to harm reduction, including opiate replacement therapy and safe injection sites," he said Friday in a release.
"Once again, I urge this government to declare a state of emergency. Let's do everything in our power to get ahead of these deaths so that more lives are not lost with each new quarterly report."
The Canadian Press