Edmonton’s Downtown Business Association takes action against opioid crisis

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Edmonton’s Downtown Business Association takes action against opioid crisis
WATCH ABOVE: The recent spike in drug overdoses in Edmonton has led to a call for support for businesses confronted with this growing crisis. Chris Chacon has more on what is being done – Jun 4, 2021

The recent spike in Edmonton drug overdoses has led to calls to support businesses confronted with the crisis.

“I don’t know that it has ever been at the critical level that it is right now,” Downtown Business Association executive director Puneeta McBryan said Friday.

The increase in opioid-related calls and deaths has been alarming for the association.

“There’s something toxic in the drug supply right now, and the supports and measures for prevention that are usually in place are just significantly reduced right now,” McBryan said.

To take matters into its own hands, the association is working with the Nook Café on a new pilot program.

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While still in its early stages, the program aims to educate and train businesses wanting to take a proactive approach to the drug crisis.

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“It could be having naloxone available in the facility. It could be opening their washrooms to the public, could be as simple as doing a walk around with coffee and food for folks who need it,” McBryan said.

This is an approach that the Nook Café has been doing for some time.

“Turning a blind eye isn’t going to make this situation go away and so equipping our employees with the tools and the support that they need to be able to respond I think is an obligation that employers have,” Marnie Suitor, the Nook Café co-owner, said.

This initiative comes after three men found dead together of suspected overdoses and 55 opioid-related calls within a matter of days.

The spike is creating concern about the supply of naloxone, the medication used to reverse a drug overdose.

“We’ve spoken with Alberta Health Services, and we’ve got more coming. That was certainly a concern at the beginning of the week, and we’re working with AHS partners to make sure we’ve got what we need to provide services,” Elliott Tanti, senior manager of communications and engagement with Boyle Street Community Services, said.

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The province said it is aware of the increased demand and distributed 1,100 kits this week in Edmonton.

It added that each month, AHS distributes 12,000 naloxone kits on average to over 2,000 sites across the province.

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