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December 16, 2017
February 9, 2017

Edmonton Headlines: February 9, 2017

Focus on fentanyl

Written by Jeff Samsonow

We talked a bit about it when the 2016 Census numbers came out, but Edmonton continues to boom. It’s one of the fastest-growing cities and metro areas in the country.


There’s been some news this week in the fentanyl overdose emergency we’re facing. While there have been headlines from around the country about the many deaths fentanyl is causing, 343 people died of an overdose in Alberta last year, nearly one person each day. There are so many people dying, we need to hire more medical examiners to keep up with the autopsies.

Fentanyl, a powerful painkiller, is a manufactured opioid many times stronger than naturally-derived opiates heroin and morphine. The problem we’re hearing about right now is because it’s being cut with other street drugs, sometimes unknowingly to the user, and that’s causing a lot of the overdoses. There is an antidote that can reverse the effects, called Naxalone, which is being made more widely available.

Edmonton firefighters are going to be part of the front-line against our city’s fentanyl overdose situation. It makes sense, as first responders are going to be called in a lot of cases of someone having trouble after taking drugs.

Earlier this week there was a health-focused forum held in Edmonton tackling issues around fentanyl. One of the big takeaways was to ensure people overdosing, or having suffered an overdose, are treated without judgement if they happen to be street drug users.

It’s certainly a different situation with so many people dying from fentanyl, but the responses we’re seeing from provincial governments across Western Canada remind me of similar calls to fight a “scourge” of meth a decade ago. I admit this current crisis is more lethal but I wonder if there aren’t cycles and patterns of drug use we’re continuing to fail to break with government regulation, treatment and enforcement.

(I noticed this story used the word “scourge” after I wrote that above paragraph.)


Here are two very different stories that include people with disabilities. The first, is about one last ride down the hill, thanks to great local volunteers who help people every winter.

The second pushes us to all remember that “Disabled young people, they have views and they have a voice, and just because they can’t verbalize what their needs are doesn’t mean that they don’t have views.”


Let’s end things today by taking a look at the Edmonton-born artist who will be providing art along our new LRT bridge through Edmonton’s river valley.


At City Hall: Audit Committee, 1:30 p.m. (here’s the agenda)

In McKernan, there’s an open house tonight, 6:30-8:30 p.m., about the community’s Neighbourhood Renewal that will detail what the final plans for streets and sidewalks look like.