Wednesday, July 8, 2020
A mother called the police in Kamloops, British Columbia (B.C.), Canada on Sunday morning after her 11-month daughter discovered a bag full of a substance that appeared to be fentanyl, a dangerous opioid drug, according to Kamloops Police, at the McDonald Park playground. She managed to get a hold of the small bag and kept her child safe.
In a statement issued on Monday, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) confirmed they seized the substance, stating “In B.C., this has been considered a public health emergency since April 2016. Unfortunately this means issues like found needles and drugs are something that all parents must be mindful of while in public settings.”
Kamloops RCMP Constable Gary Gray said fentanyl had become a popular drug in Kamloops because it was potent, and colors such as purple were used as a signature by traffickers.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the opioid crisis claimed 15,393 lives in Canada between January 2016 and December 2019, according to the Canadian Public Health Infobase.
In Ontario, provincial police Detective Constable Daniel Dubé stated to the CBC in late June that the border closure between New York State and Quebec drove up the prices of illicit drugs, and traffickers had been stretching their products further. He explained that heroin, which had normally been laced with fentanyl, had been mixed with the sedative etizolam, or benzos, another drug of the nervous system depressant class.
The Executive director of the Ask Wellness Society, Bob Hughes, told Kamloops This Week that CERB (Canada Emergency Response Benefit) payments, a program related to the COVID-19 pandemic, presented an additional factor in a spike in overdose deaths this year. According to the B.C. Coroners Service, there were 170 suspected deaths in May alone, shortly after the CERB payments started, resulting from the abuse of illicit drugs. That showed a 93% increase from 88 deaths in May 2019. Clinic and advocacy manager Michaela Jyrkkanen, of Christian anti-poverty organization The Mustard Seed Kamloops, disagreed with the correlation between the overdoses and the CERB payments.
Last year, Vancouver researchers distributed take-home test strip kits which were capable of detecting fentanyl presence in other drugs. Dr Sukhpreet Klaire, the lead author of the study and an addiction medicine specialist, said the cost of the accurate test strip kit was 75 cents. More than 95% of the participants in her study indicated they would use the strip kits again.