One of 183 naloxone kits that were handed out to individuals in January 2017 to help combat fentanyl deaths in the territory. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)

Minister Pauline Frost says Yukon’s opioid action plan to be released

Frost also said the Yukon now has a bilateral funding agreement worth $500,000 to combat the crisis

Health and Social Services Minister Pauline Frost told reporters on Oct. 30 that an opioid action plan is slated to be released “in the next couple of days.”

During a press scrum after question period, the News asked when the plan will come down, exactly, to which Frost replied she didn’t have the specific information.

“As soon as we have it, I’d be happy to release it and share it with you. We’re working on that right now with the chief medical officer,” she said.

As well, it was during question period that it became apparent that the Yukon and federal governments are working together to mitigate the opioid crisis by way of $500,000 in funding.

“… (We) have now established an emergency treatment fund as a means to address opioid crises impacting all of Canada. We now have a bilateral agreement with Canada for $500,000. We didn’t have the resources historically,” Frost said in the House.

“We’ve not seen any supports from the federal government. That was (a) huge problem for us,” she told reporters later. “We’ve seen supports to B.C., we’ve seen supports to Alberta.”

She noted that Ottawa has committed to working with the Yukon to access funding for treatment and preventative programs.

“The scope of that is still being worked out and it will tie itself into the strategic plan,” she said.

Frost said that the commitment from the federal government was “verbal.”

The News reported last week that, according to Chief Medical Officer Brendan Hanley, there have been 16 opioid-related deaths in the territory. Fentanyl is associated with 12 of those deaths; of those 12, two died in 2018.

Chief Coroner Heather Jones has told the News that, on a per capita basis, the Yukon ranks third across the country as having the most opioid-related deaths — first is British Columbia, followed by Alberta.

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

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