Posted on Dec 18, 2020


EDMONTON - The number of Albertans dying of a toxic drug overdose has skyrocketed throughout 2020, while Premier Jason Kenney has removed several services proven to save lives.

“I’m truly heartbroken to see how many Alberta families will be grieving a loved one this Christmas, and I’m angry that Jason Kenney has taken away services that could have meant the difference for them,” said Heather Sweet, NDP Opposition Critic for Mental Health and Addictions. “We have seen throughout the COVID-19 pandemic that Jason Kenney puts his personal ideology ahead of professional public health advice. He has taken the same approach to the toxic overdose crisis, and it’s led to unnecessary deaths.”

Between the beginning of January 2020 and the end of October, 1027 Albertans died of a drug overdose, of which 904 were opioid overdoses. In 2019, 603 Albertans died of an opioid overdose. 

Even as the number of overdose deaths soared, Jason Kenney closed the busiest supervised consumption site in North America, closed the McCullough Treatment Centre for Homeless Men in Gunn, cancelled an innovative telehealth program, and cancelled AHS’ successful injectable opioid agonist treatment, which led to a lawsuit from patients who called the cancellation “a death sentence.”

“At a time when the lives of so many Albertans hang in the balance, the government should be aggressively seeking out additional services to protect them, not taking away services just because they don’t align with the premier’s personal prejudices,” Sweet said. “All Albertans have seen the damage Jason Kenney has caused by refusing to act on evidence and medical advice during the COVID-19 pandemic. He cannot continue to make this mistake with the deadly overdose crisis.”