October 12, 2017 8:58 pm

B.C. looking at manslaughter charges for fentanyl dealers in fatal overdoses

Fentanyl pills are shown in an undated file photo. overdose.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/ AP-Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office via AP

The provincial government is considering tougher punishments for drug dealers pushing opioids amid B.C.’s overdose crisis.

Solicitor General Mike Farnworth says the NDP is looking to give Crown counsel the ability to charge accused fentanyl traffickers with manslaughter.

READ MORE: Manslaughter charge laid after carfentanil overdose in Alberta hotel

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“We strongly believe that if you’re dealing fentanyl, you’re dealing death,” Farnworth said. “You should be facing much more severe penalties such as manslaughter charges.”

In October of last year, Edmonton saw its first charge of manslaughter related to a fentanyl overdose, and since then a number of alleged fentanyl dealers in Ontario and Alberta are facing manslaughter charges.

READ MORE: B.C. has already seen more overdose deaths this year than in all of 2016

Farnworth wouldn’t give a timeline for any legislative changes, but said the government is considering giving prosecutors more leeway in how they charge suspected dealers.

“We’re working on a package of initiatives to unveil in the weeks and months ahead.”

The BC Coroners Service says more than 1,000 people have died from suspected drug overdoses so far this year, more than in all of 2016.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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