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Quebec government unveils action plan to fight opioid overdoses, addiction

In Quebec, naloxone kits are available for free at pharmacies.
In Quebec, naloxone kits are available for free at pharmacies. Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

The Quebec government is ramping up its fight against opioid overdoses and addiction with a $35 million annual investment over the next 10 years.

The province announced on Wednesday the creation of two initiatives: a three-year plan to tackle opioid overdoses and a 10-year strategy that focuses on drug, online gambling and internet addiction.

READ MORE: Laval police officers now equipped with naloxone as fentanyl overdoses continue to rise

“Money will also be spent on public awareness program[s] to addiction to even medically-prescribed opioids, for instance,” said Health Minister Gaétan Barrette. “There will be money set aside for research and a number of other things.”

As part of the plan, the province also announced several measures such as giving professional workers access to prevention and harm reduction tools. The government is also considering opening safe injection sites in locations other than Montreal.

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When it comes to fighting overdoses, the province said it will also make naloxone, a life-saving opioid antidote, more accessible.

READ MORE: Quebec pharmacists to carry fentanyl antidote naloxone

Barrette said while Quebec is not facing a fentanyl crisis like other provinces, it’s important to invest in prevention and to control the situation.

“A crisis is something that’s not really under control, something that’s expanding,” he said. “We’re not seeing that level of evolution if that allows us, in my view, to call this a crisis.”

“That doesn’t mean that this is not important, it means that we are not at the same level that other provinces are.”

— with files from Gloria Henriquez and la Presse Canadienne

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