Monday, March 6, 2017

-----In a March 2015 letter to Health Canada, Fern Miller, acting executive director of the addiction and mental health branch of Alberta Health Services, said the department wasn't equipped to handle the free money. "As a result of delays and resource restrictions which inhibit acquiring funding and staff, [Alberta Health Services] would not be able to successfully complete its proposed DTFP project," she wrote. The government also declined Health Canada's offer to extend the deadline for accepting funding. A Health Canada memo addressed to former Minister of Health Rona Ambrose notes "this is the first time that a [province/territory] has declined [DTFP] after its proposal has been approved. No [DTFP] recipient has ever withdrawn their proposal before the completion of the approval process."------------------Wildrose MLA Tany Yao again called on the NDP government to declare a public health emergency, which he said would allow for greater information sharing and bring more public awareness to the fentanyl crisis. Alberta Liberal Leader, Dr. David Swann, said the government's response to the opioid crisis falls short of what is needed.​ "The NDP government has not put enough priority or urgency on this issue," Swann said in a statement. "In addition to naloxone, it must ensure greater co-operation, more information sharing, and a better understanding of what is and what is not working."-----This is an unmitigated public health crisis to do with drug poisoning," said Dr. Hakique Virani, who also works as a clinical assistant professor in the faculty of medicine at the University of Alberta.---------The NDP government has proven yet again with the failure to provide timely action to the crisis that it is not really interested in the ordinary citizens of Alberta or the most vulnerable citizens but is sure as darn interested in the bigwigs who get the money for phasing out the coal generated electricity. How much are power companies getting? Billions of our dollars. So if the GOA already has billions of dollars for the power companies why not for the ordinary citizens dying of drug overdoses for no reason? I guess it is a matter of priorities. We don’t matter. But the greenwashing of the oil and gas industry via the expenditure of money on a fake climate change leadership plan (not) is what counts.


Frankly I am confused by the government of Alberta's lack of response to the opioid crisis. First the PCs decline money from the federal government to deal with the crisis because apparently they don't want to save human beings dying of drug overdose because of fiscal constraints (what the heck???). Then we have the NDP spend billions to pay off power companies to shut down coal fired plants but can't find the money to spend on real human beings dying of this public health crisis. We go from one calamity to another in government and I begin to suspect that there is no such thing as good governance. Meanwhile families keep losing their babies.

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The opioid crisis is becoming photo opportunities for politicians. We are told there is a crisis over years and yet if there is a crisis why the heck is the GOA not doing anything about the crisis?

It is about the money. There is money for birthing babies via midwives but there sure isn’t money for ending deaths by opioid overdose.
I guess the government is waiting for a hand out from the federal government before anything is done.


The NDP government has proven yet again with the failure to provide timely action to the crisis that it is not really interested in the ordinary citizens of Alberta or the most vulnerable citizens but is sure as darn interested in the bigwigs who get the money for phasing out the coal generated electricity. How much are power companies getting?  Billions of our dollars. So if the GOA already has billions of dollars for the power companies why not for the ordinary citizens dying of drug overdoses for no reason? I guess it is a matter of priorities. We don’t matter. But the greenwashing of the oil and gas industry via the expenditure of money on a fake climate change leadership plan (not) is what counts.


We cannot count on the NDP folks to support families. We can count on them wasting our taxpayer dollars on unnecessary payouts to power companies, on greenwashing for no good reason and for creation of a public persona that supposedly is all in the public interest but in reality is only in the interest of the party itself. I guess this is no different from all the other parties.


Alberta's opposition demands action on opioid crisis

Published on: March 6, 2017 | Last Updated: March 6, 2017 1:01 PM MST
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The provincial government is expecting to soon see federal funds to help fight Alberta’s deadly opioid crisis.
The federal government recently announced $65 million to to combat the issue nationwide, $10 million of which was earmarked for British Columbia.
Alberta’s Associate Health Minister Brandy Payne said Monday officials have been in conversation with Ottawa to iron out details, but she expects cash to go toward expanding access to opioid treatment and supervised consumption sites.
Alberta’s four opposition caucuses stood together Monday to slam the provincial government for what they say is inaction in fighting the opioid crisis, which claimed 343 lives in Alberta last year, fuelled in part by the proliferation of the deadly drug fentanyl.
The Wildrose, Progressive Conservative, Liberal and Alberta parties held a joint press conference urging an emergency debate on the issue.
Speaker Robert Wanner will ultimately rule on the debate, but Payne said she expects it to go ahead and looks forward to speaking with opposition about their ideas.
The opposition said Monday they want to see a proactive plan to address the crisis, more emergency care beds and better leadership, and reiterated that the government should declare a state of emergency in response to the crisis.

Ending the stigma

Rosalind Davis lost her partner, Nathan Huggins-Rosenthal, to a fentanyl overdose last February.
He was prescribed Percocet after suffering a back injury and became addicted, leading him down a path to fentanyl.
Speaking with media Monday, Davis said she didn’t know anything about drugs or addiction until Huggins-Rosenthal developed his dependence on Percocet, and believes there is a stigma attached to the opioid crisis.
When the government doesn’t act, she said, it perpetuates that stigma and misunderstanding of addictions.
Alberta’s four opposition caucuses stand together to call on the government to take immediate action to address the current opioid crisis at the Alberta legislature on Monday, March 6, 2017. DAVID BLOOM/PostmediaEDMONTON
“I do think Albertans need to know how much this impacts everyone in society,” she said.
“It’s not just those who have lost loved ones or have family members suffering, but the cost associated with healthcare, policing and crime.”

Addressing an urgent need

Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann says the NDP is refusing to treat the situation with the urgency it deserves.
“It’s time to put partisanship aside, and have a thorough and thoughtful debate on this terrible crisis that is ending lives and destroying families,” he said.
The government has staunchly rebuffed Swann’s repeated requests for a state of emergency declaration, saying ministries are working together to address the crisis.
Associate Health Minister Brandy Payne reiterated that stance Monday, saying a state of emergency isn’t appropriate in fighting an addictions and mental health issue.
British Columbia declared an opioid state of emergency in April 2016, but Payne said different regulations in that province meant it had to in order to share information across health regions.
“Our department continues to keep an eye on it, continues to evaluate it, but at this point it doesn’t give us any tools we don’t already have access to,” Payne said.
Swann’s latest call follows the release of the third quarter opioid report from 2016 that showed a deepening of the crisis and a continuing, dramatic rise in opioid-related deaths.
Opposition parties in Alberta last banded together in December to urge changes to the province’s child intervention panel.
egraney@postmedia.com
A lady here now speaking. Her partner died from fentanyl OD. He became addicted to painkillers after a back injury #ablegpic.twitter.com/r8VgJolw20
— Emma Graney (@EmmaLGraney) March 6, 2017
"There is no shame in being human. That belongs to our gvt." Nothing killing this many people has received so much apathy, she says #AbLeg
— Emma Graney (@EmmaLGraney) March 6, 2017
"We're not getting ahead of the crisis. Harm reduction is an essential part of this." – Swann #ableg
— Emma Graney (@EmmaLGraney) March 6, 2017
This is not a story just about people who are street involved. This involves all sorts of people – Clark #ableg
— Emma Graney (@EmmaLGraney) March 6, 2017
****
The Alberta Liberals indicate the situation is problematic but it is also confusing. For a while we had Sarah Hoffman yapping day and night about the fentanyl problem so that we were wondering whether the end of the world was near:


http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/street-drug-fentanyl-called-alberta-s-leading-public-health-problem-1.3355423

Street drug fentanyl called Alberta's leading public health problem

Powerful opioid killed more than 200 people in Alberta in the first nine months of 2015

CBC News Posted: Dec 08, 2015 9:38 AM MT Last Updated: Dec 08, 2015 8:53 PM MT
The street drug fentanyl, which has already killed more than 200 Albertans this year, is being called the province's leading public health problem.
The street drug fentanyl, which has already killed more than 200 Albertans this year, is being called the province's leading public health problem. (CBC)
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Alberta's leading public health problem is a street drug so lethal that even two extra grains can be fatal, says Health Minister Sarah Hoffman.
In the first nine months of this year, fentanyl killed 213 people in Alberta. Fifty-five of those deaths happened in Edmonton, including two suspected overdoses last weekend.
There is an antidote called naloxone, which can save lives if it is administered soon enough.
Right now, naloxone is only available by prescription, and can only be administered by physicians, paramedics or fentanyl users themselves.
Hoffman said Tuesday the province has purchased 2,000 extra naloxone kits and is lobbying the federal government to change the rules to make the antidote more easily accessible.
"We don't want to break the law," Hoffman told CBC News, "but we are trying to make sure that we get it into as many people's hands as possible."
The number of deaths has more than doubled in the past year. In all of 2014, fentanyl killed 120 in Alberta. Four years ago, the drug was linked to six deaths.
The opioid narcotic is up to 100 times more potent than morphine. Because most pills sold on the streets are cooked up in home labs, there is no quality control.
"When you're purchasing a street narcotic, it's never safe," Hoffman said. "You're always taking risks."
The minister said she recently spoke to an expert who likened these home drug labs to someone making chocolate chip cookies.
"Sometimes you'll get lots of chocolate chips in one cookie, and sometimes you won't get very many," she said. "And this drug is so lethal that something as small as two grains, two grains of sand or two grains of salt, can be lethal."
Hoffman said the province is working in several areas, to cut off the supply, to increase public awareness, and to open up more spaces in drug treatment centres.
"The research seems pretty clear that harm reduction is the way to best enable people to make a healthier decision in their own lives," Hoffman said. "We're not here to judge, we're here to try to save lives."
***
Hmm..this sort of article does not increase my confidence in the ability of Alberta Health to handle a fentanyl crisis.
But this was the sort of chatter we listened to over and over again until we were sick of it. Then we find out that the PCs were even worse than the NDP in their response because they refused money from the federal government because they said we were in a recession. What the heck? Are all the people we hire to government simply useless?



https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/alberta-turned-down-more-than-a-million-dollars-in-drug-treatment-funding-during-fentanyl-crisis
  • Alberta Turned Down $980,000 in Drug Treatment Funding During the Fentanyl Overdose Crisis

  • Manisha Krishnan
  • Jan 12 2016, 9:05am
  • The Progressive Conservative government made the decision due to "budget constraints."

  • The Alberta government has been criticized for restricting access to naloxone (above), a fentanyl antidote. Photo via Flickr user Governor Tom Wolf
  • This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.
  • ADVERTISEMENT
  • Alberta, a province where more than 200 people died of fentanyl overdoses in 2015, rejected $1.4 million [$980,000 USD] in federal funding for drug treatment under the Progressive Conservative government just before they were turfed from office earlier that year.
  • After successfully applying for money from the Drug Treatment Funding Program (DTFP), the province told Health Canada it couldn't afford to accept the grant due to "budget constraints" and a "hiring freeze," according to documents obtained by the CBC.
  • Fentanyl-related death rates in Alberta are the highest in the country; 213 people were killed by overdoses from January to September last year (the most recent stats available), up from 120 in 2014.
  • In a March 2015 letter to Health Canada, Fern Miller, acting executive director of the addiction and mental health branch of Alberta Health Services, said the department wasn't equipped to handle the free money.
  • "As a result of delays and resource restrictions which inhibit acquiring funding and staff, [Alberta Health Services] would not be able to successfully complete its proposed DTFP project," she wrote.
  • The government also declined Health Canada's offer to extend the deadline for accepting funding.

  • A Health Canada memo addressed to former Minister of Health Rona Ambrose notes "this is the first time that a [province/territory] has declined [DTFP] after its proposal has been approved. No [DTFP] recipient has ever withdrawn their proposal before the completion of the approval process."
  • Alberta's current health minister, Sarah Hoffman, told the CBC it's "disappointing" the money was rejected. She said the government is currently working to get some of that funding and is investing $600,000 [$420,000 USD] to review substance abuse programs in the province.
  • Stacey Petersen, executive director of Calgary-based Fresh Start Recovery, told VICE that considering that agencies across Alberta are desperate for cash, this "doesn't make a lot of sense."
  • "There's got to be something else to it, because I can't wrap my head around turning down funding," she added.
  • The Alberta government has been criticized for failing to respond effectively to the fentanyl crisis, with a recent report calling for the removal of restrictions placed on first responders providing overdose antidote naloxone, more awareness, and increased collaboration with the federal government.
  • Follow Manisha Krishnan on Twitter.
**
We have dumb decisions made by folks at AHS and Alberta Health under the less than productive PCs. Then we have a continuation of the lassitude with the new NDP folks who then hire a new person to handle the crisis or so we think.
Karen Grimsrud was hired to take care of the fentanyl crisis but after she was hired then everything went quiet.

http://www.edmontonsun.com/2016/03/11/familiar-face-hired-as-albertas-new-chief-medical-officer-of-health

Familiar face hired as Alberta's new chief medical officer of health



FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, MARCH 11, 2016 12:44 PM MST | UPDATED: FRIDAY, MARCH 11, 2016 09:36 PM MST
Dr Karen Grimsrud Sarah Hoffman (left/Alberta Minister of Health) announced that Dr. Karen Grimsrud (right) has been appointed the new Chief Medical Officer of Health for Alberta. The announcement was made in Edmonton on Friday March 11, 2016. Larry Wong/Postmedia Network.
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Dr. Karen Grimsrud has been hired as the province’s new chief medical officer of health, a role she held eight years ago under the former Tory government.
The NDP government announced the appointment Friday, noting Grimsrud’s long experience as an expert in infectious diseases. She begins the job April 18, the government said.
“The health of all Albertans is my ministry’s top priority, and Dr. Grimsrud, as our Chief Medical Officer of Health, will be a tremendous asset in protecting and promoting public health,” Health Minister Sarah Hoffman said in a written statement. ”I’m looking forward to having her as part of our team.”
Grimsrud’s served in the chief’s role in an acting capacity in 2007 and 2008, before she and three other public health officials were told their contracts were not being renewed.
The health minister at the time, Ron Liepert, initially suggested, then later denied, that the officials wanted too much money. A Journal investigation indicated Grimsrud was being paid up to $60,000 less than her counterparts in Manitoba and Ontario.
Grimsrud has not spoken publicly about the circumstances of her departure. However, many observers have noted her exit came shortly after she warned the province that syphilis had spread into the general population across Alberta and into the Northwest Territories. Five babies died from the disease between 2005 and 2007 during the outbreak, but a broad syphilis awareness campaign was stalled by Liepert. He wanted the campaign to target the most at risk.’
Because of contract stipulations, Grimsrud and the other public health doctors could not say why they left their positions.
The NDP government said Grimsrud has 25 years of experience working in public health with expertise in immunization, communicable disease control, public health emergency preparedness, and chronic disease prevention. She was chosen following a national search.
Her role is to advise the Minister on public health and population health matters.
“Public health has long been a passion of mine. I’m looking forward to taking on this new challenge and contributing as part of a team to promote and protect public health in Alberta,” Grimsrud said in a written statement.
The province has been without a chief medical officer of health since last summer, when the NDP government chose not to renew the contract of Dr. James Talbot. The reasons for Talbot’s departure have never been made public.
kgerein@postmedia.com
http://www.metronews.ca/news/edmonton/2016/03/11/grimsrud-focused-on-fentanyl-and-mental-health.html

Alberta's newest medical officer focused on fentanyl, mental health

Dr. Karen Grimsrud says she's hoping to make a contribution to the fight against the opioid crisis that say 272 people die in Alberta in 2015.

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Health Minister Sarah Hoffman and new Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Karen Grimsrud.
TIM QUERENGESSER/METRO
Health Minister Sarah Hoffman and new Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Karen Grimsrud.
By: Tim Querengesser Metro, With files from Jeremy Simes/For Metro Published on Fri Mar 11 2016
The first thing Health Minister Sarah Hoffman says she talked about with Dr. Karen Grimsrud was fentanyl.
Grimsrud, who Hoffman announced Friday as Alberta's newest chief medical officer of health, held the position eight years ago in an interim capacity before her contract was not renewed.
"From a public health point of view there should be some contributions we can make — anything from the surveillance piece, prevention piece, and then maybe, too on the evidence-based part of harm reduction," Grimsrud said.
And at a press conference Friday, she said she's hoping to make a contribution on the opioid crisis that saw 272 people in Alberta die of fentanyl-linked overdoses in 2015.
"What's been shown to work, what hasn't worked, [and] how does that fit into the Alberta situation?"
Grimsrud added she's also interested in working to improve innoculation rates and mental health.
Her salary will be $353,000 annually.
Hoffman said Grimsrud's compensation is similar with comparable positions in other Canadian jurisdictions and Alberta’s last chief medical officer, Dr. James Talbot.
“Welcome to the world of transparency,” Hoffman said. “We believe it’s fair compensation and I believe it’s an important investment for the public health of Albertans.”
There are no further plans to hire other provincial health officers, Hoffman said.
When Grimsrud left the position in 2008, along with three other top health offices, it was reported she was earning some $60,000 less than a comparable position in Ontario.
Grimsrud said she's happy to be back in the role as it has changed, noting that it now reports to executive council, unlike when she held the role in the past.
She was asked about the circumstances of her departure in the past, which she was unable to speak about previously.
"I don't think that's really where I want to go with this," she said. "The past is the past. It's a new position, a new structure."
* This story has been edited to fix an error in the number of fentanyl-linked overdoses.

**

So has Ms. Grimsrud been doing anything about the opioid crisis?

I go look for information on what the heck was going on at Alberta Health to explain the lack of a coordinated response to the opioid crisis and I come across this article.
It looks like the NDP folks were busy deleting folks who were important for dealing effectively with the fentanyl crisis and the new person they hired to take over from folks they fired seems to be reporting to the Alberta Health folks in a different capacity.

Karen Grimsrud for example doesn't report to the Health minister but reports to the top administrator at Alberta Health who might be the deputy health minister. It doesn't say in the article below.


It appears she has been reporting to Ms. Hoffman about STDs while folks are dying of drug overdoes. Hmm..this does not appear to be a coordinated response to the crisis that the NDP folks were yapping about day and night to the public about until we got fed up of the chatter.


http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/alberta/albertas-health-officials-in-flux-as-fentanyl-overdosesmount/article29811619/
Karen Grimsrud took over as Alberta’s chief medical officer on April 18, nearly 10 months after Dr. Talbot’s term ended. The job description for Alberta’s chief medical officer has changed since Dr. Talbot’s days. While Dr. Talbot says he advised and reported to the health minister, the position now reports to the top administrator in the Department of Health.
Dr. Grimsrud said that so far, she has advised Ms. Hoffman about her concerns over the province’s growing rates of sexually transmitted infection.

************* The Health minister does not seem to have much contact with the new hire at least with reference to the opioid crisis so who then is in charge of the crisis? I don't know.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/alberta/albertas-health-officials-in-flux-as-fentanyl-overdosesmount/article29811619/
Christina Chant of Vancouver Coastal Health during a recent naloxone training session in Vancouver.
Christina Chant of Vancouver Coastal Health during a recent naloxone training session in Vancouver.
JOHN LEHMANN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

’Ceaseless disaster’

Alberta’s fentanyl crisis has unfolded as its top medical officials have been replaced – more than once. Justin Giovannetti reports
EDMONTONTHE GLOBE AND MAILLAST UPDATED: FRIDAY, JUL. 08, 2016 1:22PM EDT
Aflood of grim reports detailing a surge in fentanyl deaths had been pouring into the office of Alberta’s chief medical officer for months before Jim Talbot finally got good news. In May, 2015, he learned in a phone call that one of the antidote kits his office bought to fight illicit fentanyl had saved a life for the first time.
It was one of the proudest moments of his career. Days later, he was told he was out of the job.
Sarah Hoffman was sworn in as the province’s Health Minister on May 25, 2015, nearly three weeks after Rachel Notley’s New Democrats swept to power and ended more than four decades of Conservative rule in Alberta.
A Western crisis


The number of people who have died after ingesting the deadly opioid fentanyl has been on a steep climb in British Columbia and Alberta since 2012. B.C.’s death toll could reach 800 this year, prompting an unprecedented public health emergency declaration. In Alberta, where deaths far outstripped those of its neighbour last year, the office charged with leading a response has had a rotation of leaders.


Within her first week in office, Ms. Hoffman signed a letter telling Dr. Talbot his contract would not be renewed. He got the letter on May 31, six days after she was sworn in. His last day was June 30.
Michael Trew, the province’s chief mental health officer, got a similar letter the next week.
“My belief is … well … while the government is ultimately responsible for signing off on those types of decisions, I think that they both had more to do with internal things at the Department of Health, rather than the politicians involved,” Dr. Trew told The Globe and Mail.
A Globe investigation found that Health Canada and Alberta’s health department ignored red flags as fentanyl use began to soar, and did not take adequate steps to stop doctors from indiscriminately prescribing highly addictive opioids to treat chronic pain.
While fentanyl deaths have increased in other provinces, the drug’s impact has been most pronounced in Alberta. The number of Albertans dying from a fentanyl overdose soared to 272 last year from 66 in 2013. As the crisis unfolded, Alberta’s incoming Health Minister and senior officials in her department chose to end the contracts of the province’s two most senior public health doctors. They did so without plans for an immediate replacement for Dr. Talbot. Dr. Trew’s position was eliminated.
Deaths linked to fentanyl in B.C. and Alberta
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THE GLOBE AND MAIL » SOURCE:PROVINCIAL CORONERS OFFICES AND CHIEF MEDICAL EXAMINERS
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272

DEATHS LINKED TO FENTANYL IN B.C. AND ALBERTA

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Ms. Hoffman said in a statement provided by her office that she would not discuss Dr. Talbot or Dr. Trew, citing privacy rules. Ms. Hoffman also would not confirm whether she understood at the time that she was removing Alberta’s two leading public health doctors during a health crisis.
The first month of the NDP government was chaotic. After a crushing defeat, the province’s Progressive Conservatives packed up their offices and left, handing off to a new government without any veterans. Fentanyl deaths were quickly increasing – 390 between January, 2014, and December, 2015, would die from illicit forms of the drug. Before being sworn in as Health Minister, Ms. Hoffman was chair of the Edmonton School Board.
“I have no illusions that there is much more work to be done as long as families and communities struggle with the far-reaching consequences of addiction,” Ms. Hoffman said in the statement.
Alberta’s top doctor since 2012, Dr. Talbot had not had an easy time in office. He had to deal with avian flu, the largest meat recall in Canadian history at XL Foods, and then the 2013 floods across southern Alberta. The challenges of his three-year term were described by a senior health official as “ceaseless disaster” in the province.
I have no illusions that there is much more work to be done as long as families and communities struggle with the far-reaching consequences of addiction.
SARAH HOFFMAN, ALBERTA HEALTH MINISTER
While Dr. Trew was hired to help Alberta cope with the fallout of the record floods, he soon turned his attention to the fentanyl crisis. He told The Globe he was looking forward to working with the New Democrats – the previous government had not always supported harm-reduction strategies.
“I thought there was much I could do working within government,” he said.
Dr. Trew and Dr. Talbot worked together to start the program that has now distributed 9,000 doses of the antidote naloxone. Today, Ms. Hoffman and the Health Department trumpet the program as a success in the fight against fentanyl, but Dr. Talbot told The Globe it faced opposition from some health administrators in the previous government.
He says when he asked for funding, he was turned down and told the $300,000 cost was too high. As a result, he found the funds in his office’s budget. Alberta’s annual health budget at the time was nearly $20-billion.
It was soon after the naloxone program was rolled out that he was notified that his contract would not be renewed.
“I was given no reason, and I asked for reasons. I had a significant amount of work in progress that has suffered, and I regret that. It was important work. I don’t know why it happened,” Dr. Talbot said.
One of Alberta’s deputy chief medical officers filled in for Dr. Talbot until November, when she stepped down. She is no longer listed as working for the government. Ms. Hoffman’s office would not explain why.
Karen Grimsrud took over as Alberta’s chief medical officer on April 18, nearly 10 months after Dr. Talbot’s term ended. The job description for Alberta’s chief medical officer has changed since Dr. Talbot’s days. While Dr. Talbot says he advised and reported to the health minister, the position now reports to the top administrator in the Department of Health.
Dr. Grimsrud said that so far, she has advised Ms. Hoffman about her concerns over the province’s growing rates of sexually transmitted infection.
“I’m getting up to speed on a lot of files. It’s a busy office. STIs, fentanyl, mental health are at the top,” she said. “When I feel there is a public health issue that [the Health Minister] needs to be made aware of, then I can speak with her directly about that and provide my advice.”

****
This article was interesting because it exposes all the politics in government.  The deletion of folks from government and the hiring of new folks by the NDP will then be followed in the next election by more of such rearrangements by the Wildrose folks. Such political games are part of the fun of being hired to government and I only hope that the deletions will happen in AHS and Covenant Health in the next round of cuts.

But let me focus. We are in the middle of an Alberta Health rearrangement that has resulted in the loss of folks and the hiring of a new chief medical officer. What is she doing about the crisis? No idea. In fact, I am not sure if the GOA knows what it is doing about the opioid crisis currently but since these problems are limited to a subsection of our society of little importance I guess this is the reason why no one has bothered to provide any assistance to these poor folks.

 I also notice that the Hoffman is not yapping day and night about the opioid crisis but has the other health figurehead doing the chatter now.



Alberta government under fire for response to record 343 fentanyl deaths

Naloxone kits will be available to all police, firefighters and paramedics, and to members of the public

By Min Dhariwal, CBC News Posted: Feb 07, 2017 11:43 AM MT Last Updated: Feb 08, 2017 9:54 AM MT
Associate minister of health Brandy Payne announced several new steps Tuesday to help the province deal with a crisis of drug overdoses.
Associate minister of health Brandy Payne announced several new steps Tuesday to help the province deal with a crisis of drug overdoses. (CBC)
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Facing a grim and growing death toll from fentanyl overdoses — a total of 343 last year — the Alberta government announced its latest steps Tuesday to curb the crisis, though critics were quick to condemn the moves as weak and wanting.
The government announced it will make opioid antidote kits available to all first-responders and to the general public, without prescriptions.
Naloxone, the antidote that blocks the effects of an overdose, will now be listed as an unscheduled drug in Alberta, allowing anyone to get a kit.
The total number of fentanyl deaths in Alberta last year marked an increase of almost 100 over the 2015 total, when 257 people died.
At a news conference Tuesday at an Edmonton fire hall, the province's associate health minister also announced plans to open an opioid dependency treatment clinic this spring in Grande Prairie, to serve 300 patients.
Alberta Health will also begin publishing interim reports on fentanyl deaths to give the public and front-line workers more up-to-date information, said associate minister of health Brandy Payne.
But one Edmonton public health physician who treats patients with addictions said the fentanyl numbers released Tuesday don't tell the whole story.
"This is an unmitigated public health crisis to do with drug poisoning," said Dr. Hakique Virani, who also works as a clinical assistant professor in the faculty of medicine at the University of Alberta.
The province has not released information about the total number of drug overdoses in the last three months of 2016, Virani said.
"It's important, right now when we're in the midst of a huge public health crisis, for people to feel like we care. And to not report what's happening, unfortunately, leaves a lot of people with the message that we say we do, but we're not demonstrating it."
Payne said one step that will help save lives is to make naloxone kits widely available, not only to firefighters, paramedics and police officers, but also to the general public.
In the past, such kits were available at drug stores, but only by prescription.
Fentanyl graph
(Alberta Health)
"Our first responders are among the people experiencing the traumatic toll this crisis is having on families, and communities," Payne said. "We want to make sure our emergency crews have the equipment and training they need, so they can respond more quickly and more effectively to someone suffering from a potentially deadly opioid overdose."
For the province's 5,000 professional firefighters, naloxone will be another new tool to help them combat a problem that has become all too familiar.

Firefighters already training to use antidote

Edmonton Fire Chief Ken Block said Tuesday's announcement will help his crews save lives when they arrive at the scene where someone is overdosing.
"We're currently having ... that training carried out in stations as we speak, and our expectation is that it'll take us about two weeks to be confident that we're ready to start administering the naloxone, which lines up pretty well with its availability."
Police officers, in many cases the first ones on the scene, will also have training and naloxone kits made available to them, Payne said. Firefighters in Calgary have been using the kits since December of 2016
"I would encourage anyone who is concerned about a friend, a family member, a loved one, to please go pick up a kit," Payne said. "They are distributed through community pharmacies across the province, as well as harm reduction agencies will be able to hand out the kits."
The minister said about five minutes of training is involved before people can take the kits home.   
The province also announced that $730,000 in grants will be provided to support agencies in several communities, including Edmonton and Calgary, to establish supervised consumption sites.
On Tuesday, Alberta's opposition parties chided the government for not doing enough on the issue
Wildrose MLA Tany Yao again called on the NDP government to declare a public health emergency, which he said would allow for greater information sharing and bring more public awareness to the fentanyl crisis.
Alberta Liberal Leader, Dr. David Swann, said the government's response to the opioid crisis falls short of what is needed.​
"The NDP government has not put enough priority or urgency on this issue," Swann said in a statement. "In addition to naloxone, it must ensure greater co-operation, more information sharing, and a better understanding of what is and what is not working."

An even more dangerous drug

The latest overdose numbers came as the province gears up to face an even more dangerous drug, a toxic opioid pain killer called carfentanil, considered to be 100 times more potent than fentanyl.
The drug, relatively new to the province, was linked to 22 deaths in Alberta in 2016, the provincial government said.
In British Columbia, more than 900 people died last year from illegal drug overdoses, numbers unprecedented in the province's history.
B.C. was the first province to declare a public health emergency, and Premier Christy Clark was the first to assemble a joint task force of leading health and criminal justice experts to address the crisis on all fronts.
It was the first jurisdiction in North America to have supervised injection sites, and the first to implement overdose-prevention sites. Since then Montreal has approved three safe injection sites as well.
Payne said she hopes to have Edmonton's first safe injection site open "as soon as possible, ideally by the end of this year."
The group behind Edmonton's safe injection site has community consultation scheduled in the coming weeks.
*****

I notice that when things aren't going well, the Hoffman tends to stay in the background and has Brandy Payne take over the Payneful details of a botched job.

How botched is this job?  Usually folks in Alberta do not say the truth but this doctor just says it like it is and I kind of admire him for this ruthless frankness:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/fentanyl-opiod-crisis-deaths-province-response-action-plan-1.3970517

This is an unmitigated public health crisis to do with drug poisoning," said Dr. Hakique Virani, who also works as a clinical assistant professor in the faculty of medicine at the University of Alberta.

***
This seems to be a believable response by Dr. Virani since it follows all the GOA chatter we have heard over the last year. In addition there seems to be only criticism by all the political parties in the opposition about the lack of government action so I guess Dr. Virani won't lose his job for telling the truth since everyone is saying the same truth.
So again,  if it is a public health crisis why has there been no effective response by the government of Alberta? Are we governed only by incompetent hires? Why do folks have to die in large numbers for the elephant of the GOA to move it's rump?

When the Hoffman was asked about the lack of response of the GOA (i.e. the lack of spending to help ameliorate the problem) this is what she had to say which is basically- don't blame the NDP -it's the fault of the PCs. Well to some extent it is the fault of the PCs but surely by now the NDP folks know that we aren't interested in who is responsible for the lack of cash in government ? We're interested in what government is going to do about problems even with a lack of cash.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/alberta/experts-raise-alarm-over-albertas-low-spending-on-opioid-treatment/article31500417/


Ms. Hoffman told The Globe health spending has “budgetary challenges,” but the government is looking at ways to increase options for addiction treatment.
“The gap is something we’ve inherited,” she said of the deep difference between spending on opioids and treatment.
“Our intent is to move forward in providing more treatment, and that’s one of the reasons why we’ve put a $3-million grant to [the Alberta Health Service] around … treatment clinics,” Ms. Hoffman said.
The one-time grant has helped finance a clinic in southern Alberta that provides treatment spaces for opioid addictions, the minister said. Two more clinics are planned. However, the Health Minister could not say whether the province was prepared to spend an additional $40-million annually to bring its spending on treatments to a level closer to that of B.C.
********************
Somehow we also believe that if government is able to spend billions on paying off power companies we can still manage to solve problems involving human beings without too much trouble.  Really we can solve any problem if the government decides to do this. Government does this all the time when the problems are those of the oil and gas industry. Why not when the problems are those of ordinary citizens? 

I imagine the GOA isn't interested in the problems of ordinary citizens is it?


http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/alberta/experts-raise-alarm-over-albertas-low-spending-on-opioid-treatment/article31500417/


Experts raise alarm over Alberta’s low spending on opioid treatment

EDMONTON — The Globe and Mail
Published Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2016 6:00AM EDT
Last updated Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2016 7:23AM EDT
As deaths from opioid abuse began soaring across Alberta in 2014, the province’s public drug program was spending less to treat addictions to the substances than any other province: only 5.7 cents for every dollar that went toward prescription painkillers.
Alberta spent $1.1-million on medication for opioid dependence in 2014, according to figures the Canadian Institute for Health Information compiled for The Globe and Mail. That same year, Alberta’s public drug program spent $18.1-million on opioids.
Once reserved for terminal cancer patients or those in extreme pain, the most popular type of opioid had become Alberta’s seventh-most-prescribed drug by 2014. That was not unusual compared with other Canadian provinces at the time and public health experts warned the province was becoming addicted to powerful painkillers. However, its low spending on medication to treat opioid dependence made it “an outlier,” said Hakique Virani, a public-health specialist based in Edmonton.
“It does not make a lot of sense that we continue to spend so many times more on opioid prescriptions than treatment, and the cost of drugs is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the opioid burden,” Dr. Virani said.
Spending less on treatment, he warned, could increase the province’s costs for emergency room visits, hospital care, emergency response, law enforcement and incarceration.
With the increase in legal painkillers came an explosion in illicit opioids, and patients who had overdosed on legal and illegal versions of the drug fentanyl became common in the province’s emergency rooms in late 2014. In Alberta, 120 people died from overdosing on the drug in 2014 and 274 died the next year.
A recent Globe investigation found that Ottawa and the provinces failed to take adequate steps to stop doctors from indiscriminately prescribing highly addictive opioids for chronic pain. In 2015, doctors wrote 53 opioid prescriptions for every 100 people in Canada, according to figures compiled for The Globe by IMS Brogan, which tracks pharmaceutical sales.
Three provinces – PEI, Newfoundland and Labrador, and New Brunswick – spent more on addiction treatment than opioids in 2014. British Columbia spent 94 cents on treatment for every dollar spent on opioids. In Saskatchewan, the figure was 11.4 cents.
The Globe contacted Health Minister Sarah Hoffman’s office and Alberta’s department of health for this story. After being given a week to examine the data from CIHI, the Alberta government said the numbers do not represent the province’s spending, but would not provide official figures for 2014.
“It is not appropriate to compare opioid and opioid dependency treatment spending using this CIHI data,” Gaïtane Villeneuve, a spokeswoman for Alberta Health, wrote to The Globe.
The government released partial figures for 2015-2016 in response to The Globe’s inquiries. Alberta’s public drug plan spent about $51-million on opioids last year and $6-million on dependency treatment. That is about 11 cents for treatment on every dollar spent on painkillers.
Alberta’s College of Physicians and Surgeons is monitoring doctors’ prescriptions in the province and warning physicians who have multiple patients on very high daily doses of opioids about the potential for abuse. It is also putting the final touches on a system that will provide every physician in the province with a report showing how many opioids they prescribe and how that compares to the average.
“We’re certainly one of the jurisdictions with the highest opioid use in the country. It’s a big problem to tackle and it won’t be tackled just by having physicians turn off the tap,” the college’s registrar, Trevor Theman, said.
The college is also preparing a new standard of practice that seeks to limit the use of opioids, making it clear to physicians they should not prescribe them for chronic, non-cancer pain.
Ms. Hoffman told The Globe health spending has “budgetary challenges,” but the government is looking at ways to increase options for addiction treatment.
“The gap is something we’ve inherited,” she said of the deep difference between spending on opioids and treatment.
“Our intent is to move forward in providing more treatment, and that’s one of the reasons why we’ve put a $3-million grant to [the Alberta Health Service] around … treatment clinics,” Ms. Hoffman said.
The one-time grant has helped finance a clinic in southern Alberta that provides treatment spaces for opioid addictions, the minister said. Two more clinics are planned. However, the Health Minister could not say whether the province was prepared to spend an additional $40-million annually to bring its spending on treatments to a level closer to that of B.C.
The Alberta Adolescent Recovery Centre in Calgary, which has treated teenagers for addiction during the province’s fentanyl crisis, currently has 21 patients. The 26-year-old centre gets no government funding, despite repeated requests.

*********

So let me get this straight. The GOA spends a measly $3 million grant to fund treatment. Meanwhile how much money has the government spent on buffing up the oil and gas industry reputation with the greenwashing carbon tax and the decommissioning of the coal fired power plants?
The government is spending billions of dollars for an early shut down of coal fired plants that was completely unnecessary since these plants were being slowly phased out. And yet the government cannot find the money to save the lives of ordinary Albertans. Wow. Just wow. And let us not forget other greenwashing projects that will take yet more taxpayer dollars for dubious returns. A sad situation. But this is democracy for you. We vote folks in who we thought were smart, wise and represented the people.

What we got was another term of the PCs in NDP format. Hard to believe that no matter who we hire it's the same bad governance. As for the poor folks dying of opioids in Alberta? Don't expect help unless Mr. Trudeau steps up to help because in Alberta, it's all not so about the people.

It's all about the dollar bill, the dollar bill yo!




http://business.financialpost.com/news/energy/alberta-strikes-1-36-billion-deal-with-coal-companies-as-part-of-plan-to-shut-down-plants-early

Alberta to pay three power companies $1.36 billion to shut their coal-fired plants early

Geoffrey Morgan | November 24, 2016 | Last Updated: Nov 25 7:19 AM ET
A TransAlta power plant
Handout/TransAltaA TransAlta power plant
CALGARY  — The Alberta government will pay three coal-fired electric generating companies $1.36 billion for the province’s decision to close their plants early, while also potentially avoiding a lawsuit with other power companies in the province.
The province’s Energy Minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd announced Thursday the province will pay Capital Power Corp., TransAlta Corp. and ATCO Ltd. a total of $97 million per year, beginning next year and payable every year until 2030, to shut down six of their 18 power plants early.
The other 12 coal-fired electric generating stations in the province are all scheduled to close, or convert to natural gas, before 2030. Alberta’s NDP government has mandated that all coal-fired power plants either cease operations or eliminate all their emissions by that date as part of sweeping climate change legislation announced last year.
“The government is committed to working with existing Alberta businesses as we transition away from coal, and we are making good on that commitment today,” Energy Minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd said.

Related

The transition payments mark the third major announcement affecting Alberta’s deregulated electricity market this week, after government officials announced Tuesday a cap on electric prices and on Wednesday changes to the way the electric market is regulated and structured.
The payments will be made out of revenues collected from the province’s newly implemented price on carbon and were announced at the same time that the government announced it had settled lawsuits, initiated by the province, with other power companies .
The province has now reached an agreement with Capital Power, and tentative agreements with AltaGas Ltd. and TransCanada Corp., to avoid a lawsuit over the cancellation of the contracts. The government is still negotiating with Enmax Corp., Calgary’s city-owned utility, and has yet to come to an agreement.
Those companies cancelled contracts they held to purchase power in the province after the government imposed higher carbon prices on emissions, a move which made those power-purchase contracts less profitable.
Alberta’s government has said the changes it has made to the electricity market as necessary to attract new, greener power plants in the province to offset the mandated closure of coal-fired generating stations by 2030.
“Alberta is by far the largest source of coal pollution in Canada, with greenhouse gas emissions that exceed the sum of every car from British Columbia to Manitoba,” Environment Minister Shannon Phillips said in a statement.
Terry Boston, a former electricity executive in the U.S. hired by the province to negotiate a coal phase-out with the private sector, said the transition payments “support Alberta’s commendable transition to a low-carbon economy and will go a long way in securing a positive investment climate in Alberta.”
Boston released a letter to Premier Rachel Notley on Thursday that said the province could develop more hydro-electric generation to replace coal-fired power.
Financial Post
gmorgan@nationalpost.com

Billions expected to be spent on green energy in Alberta, Saskatchewan

Suppliers want details as Alberta promises to unveil massive renewable-energy plan by fall

By Kyle Bakx, CBC News Posted: Jun 02, 2016 2:40 PM ET Last Updated: Jun 02, 2016 4:59 PM ET
Alberta and Saskatchewan are investing heavily in renewable energy to meet their 2030 targets.
Alberta and Saskatchewan are investing heavily in renewable energy to meet their 2030 targets. (Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg)
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With up to $50 billion to be spent on renewable energy projects in Alberta and Saskatchewan over the next 14 years, suppliers want details on how the money will be spent and which projects they can bid on.
The estimate came Thursday from David Hickey, of Siemens Canada's wind and renewables division, speaking at a panel in Calgary.
More than 400 renewable energy business leaders and bankers are in the city trying to figure how to get some of the billions governments will soon spend on renewable energy.
'This is a complicated file, and we will take the time to get it right.'- Shannon Phillips
Alberta will unveil its program in the fall and begin accepting bids from the private sector by end of the year. It's currently reviewing a report by the Alberta Electricity System Operator (AESO) about how to have a competitive procurement process for renewables.
"In my office we actually have a saying around this, which is 'first pants, then shoes.' For some, we have been moving too quickly. For others, we haven't moved fast enough," said Alberta Environment Minister Shannon Phillips.
The government's goal is to rely on renewables for 30 per cent of electricity consumption by 2030.
"Continuing to do nothing is a dead end for our economy," said Phillips. "Inaction on climate change will only result in more boom-bust, fewer opportunities for access to markets, and more risk to our resiliency as a province."
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Shannon Phillips isn't surprised the private sector has questions and concerns about how Alberta will increase renewable energy generation.0:41
Companies taking part in this week's Alberta and Saskatchewan Renewable Energy Finance Summit include Enbridge and GE.
"There is a terrific opportunity here. I think we are going to get more renewables built in [Alberta]. It's a question of what shape do they come in," said Robert Nicolson, with the energy and power group at RBC Capital Markets.
In Saskatchewan, the provincial government has a 50 per cent renewable energy target for 2030.
Already, 25 per cent of Saskatchewan's electricity generation is from renewable sources (20 per cent hydro and five per cent wind). Three new wind power projects are expected to nearly double the province's wind generation by 2020.
In addition, SaskPower will invest in a utility-scale solar power generation project, with a competitive procurement this year.

'Complicated file'

The Alberta government is introducing a price on carbon, set to take effect Jan. 1, 2017, predicted to raise $9.6 billion over five years, which will help finance renewables such as large scale solar and wind as well as microgeneration at homes and businesses.
On Jan. 1, large emitters will pay a carbon price of $20 per tonne for emissions that exceed their target. The price then rises to $30 a tonne on Jan. 1, 2018. Over the next five years, the government estimates it will spend $3.4 billion from the carbon tax toward large-scale renewable energy, bioenergy and technology.
"This is a complicated file and we will take the time to get it right," said Phillips. "That might be a bit of an unsatisfactory answer for many of you here today, but I would submit to you that a methodical and deliberate approach to this matter will yield the right results."
Developers and lenders raised several concerns to AESO such as the uncertainty with Alberta's electricity market, a lack of clarity about the renewable development targets, the complexity of regulatory approvals and uncertainty about when coal-fired power plants will actually be decommissioned.
In addition, electricity prices are currently at near 20-year lows in the province.
"I have not been surprised by the concerns that have been raised by developers," said Phillips to reporters. "There are always challenges when you are doing something new."
She described the Alberta government working with renewable energy developers as a "transformational opportunity" to make the province greener and cleaner.
The summit wraps up Friday with discussions about financing wind and solar energy and the business outlook for new projects.
AESO expects the first Alberta government funded renewable energy projects to be in service by 2019.


NDP should release full economic costs of changes to Alberta's power grid: Wildrose

SEPTEMBER 14, 2016 12:49 PM
The NDP government should release the full costs of today’s announcement to shift to renewables, including the costs of shutting down existing generation early, massively expanding gas generation to keep the grid operating at all times, waging battle with Alberta’s power companies through expensive legal battles and implementing a new $3 billion carbon tax on every Alberta family, the Wildrose Official Opposition said today.
The NDP failed to provide any evidence to support today’s claim that billions of dollars of investment have been committed as a result of the government’s renewable policy or any information on where the promised 7,200 new jobs would come from. Today’s NDP claims directly contradict the only credible government data released to date detailing the economic impact of NDP policies which warned of catastrophic job losses and a reduction in Alberta’s GDP.
“Given the NDP government’s long history of failing to be honest about the full cost of their risky economic plans, today’s announcement doesn’t provide any more certainty for Albertans. The minister should release her government’s own internal analysis today,” Wildrose Leader Brian Jean said. “Continuing to attract investment for natural gas and renewables is the right idea, but creating legal battles with power companies, shutting down newer coal plants and creating a massive taxpayer funded subsidy program will just make things worse for struggling Alberta families.”
Environment Minister Shannon Phillips made today’s announcement before even hearing or making public the results of the $600,000 study on how to shut down coal in Alberta by 2030.
The NDP government has launched a lawsuit paid for by Alberta taxpayers against Enmax, owned by the City of Calgary, over Power Purchase Arrangements this summer. The PPAs were signed in good faith, and the willingness of the NDP to take electricity companies to court over the arrangements show how out of touch they are with the realities of business in the province.
“Today’s announcement gives no answers about how much this renewables program will cost everyday Albertans at a time when many are already struggling to just get by,” Wildrose Shadow Electricity and Renewables Minister Don MacIntyre said. “The NDP government is forging ahead without a cohesive plan for our electricity industry. Albertans deserve an economic impact analysis on the high costs for them and our economy that will be associated with a coal phase out, switching 30 per cent of electricity to renewables, and a $3 billion dollar carbon tax before any of the plans move forward.”

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