The RCMP announced Thursday that it will work with China’s Ministry of Public Security (MPS) to curb the flow of fentanyl into Canada.
RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson met with MPS Vice-Minister Chen Zhimin met in Ottawa this week where they hashed out an agreement to “strengthen coordinated law enforcement actions” to cut the flow of opioids out of China an into Canada, according to a press release.
“Fentanyl and other opioids pose a grave threat to the safety of Canadian communities,” Paulson said in a statement. “Our meeting this week was an important step forward and highlights the commitment between our two organizations to enhance operational collaboration, identify key areas of concern, and work towards a coordinated approach to combat fentanyl trafficking.”
Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott welcomed the discussion between the two countries.
“We were very pleased to see that these discussions took place and that there’s going to be some very important work being done,” Philpott told reporters. “As you know we held an opioid conference last week and discussed the fact that it has to be a whole of government, a whole of society response to the opioid crisis.”
Philpott said she spoke to her colleagues in public safety and foreign affairs on the weekend and is pleased to see a quick response to the meeting.
“That will take a full, across the board diplomatic effort,” Goodale said. “To this point, the Chinese authorities have indicated agreement and cooperation on this front. We just need to continue to work with them and all others to make sure we can stop this in the best way possible.”
Last week, B.C. Premier Christy Clark, whose province is on the front line of Canada’s fentanyl problem, urged Ottawa to take steps to stop the flow of fentanyl from China – a drug that prompted that province to declare a public health emergency last spring.
In the first 10 months of 2016, there were 622 unintentional overdose deaths from illicit drugs in British Columbia. Of those deaths that occurred before October, 332 were linked to fentanyl.
In Alberta, 338 died from an apparent drug overdoses related to an opioid. Fentanyl was involved in 193 of them as of the end of October. By the September, there had in a total of 18 opioid overdoses in Saskatchewan.
The RCMP announcement follows a two-day summit in Ottawa between public health experts and politicians to hash out a solution to the escalating – and deadly – rates of drug addiction.
Medical experts were urging the federal government to declare a national public emergency crisis.
–with files from The Canadian Press