Danielle Smith urges cooperation from B.C. to curb drug trafficking into Alberta

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith said her ministers are trying to get more data from B.C. on the interprovincial trafficking of drugs. "We need to know if there's evidence, they ['safe supply'] came from B.C. … so we're going to continue pressing on that,' she said.

Danielle Smith urges cooperation from B.C. to curb drug trafficking into Alberta
Remove Ads

Last month, RCMP detachments in British Columbia confirmed that hard drugs obtained legally in the province are being sold by users to organized crime, who then distribute them across the country.

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith told reporters her government is actively working to reduce the presumed fallout from their neighbour’s addiction policy. 

On Wednesday, Smith told Rebel News her ministers are trying to get more data from B.C. on the interprovincial trafficking of drugs, including 'safe supply,' but to no avail as of writing.

“We need to know if there's evidence, they came from British Columbia … so we're going to continue pressing on that,” she said. “We need to know that information.”

Although Smith said her government does not have enough information to talk about the degree illicit drug trafficking is harming Alberta, she referenced several high-stakes seizures by B.C. RCMP to justify her position.

An investigation last month in Prince George seized more than 10,000 pills, including gabapentin, hydromorphone, codeine and dextroamphetamine, a spokesperson told The National Post. 

A second investigation uncovered thousands more prescription pills, including oxycodone, morphine and hydromorphone.

Hydromorphone, a less potent substitute for fentanyl, were initially designated as ‘safe supply’ prescription drugs by the province.

Meanwhile, Alberta’s government continues its cross-border work with the RCMP and dedicated units to curb the flow of drugs into the province.

On January 31, 2023, the Public Health Agency of Canada granted the province a subsection 56(1) exemption for three years to decriminalize possession of up to 2.5 grams of heroin, crack, cocaine, fentanyl, MDMA and meth.

A record 2,511 British Columbians died of fatal overdoses last year, contravening the intent behind ‘safe supply’ programs.

“Organized crime groups are actively involved in the redistribution of safe supply and prescription drugs,” confirmed RCMP Corp. Jennifer Cooper of the Prince George detachment.

“What we have seen in Prince George is people taking prescribed medication, some of which is dedicated as safe supply prescription drugs and selling them to organized crime groups in exchange for more potent illicit drugs,” she said. “Organized crime is then taking prescription drugs and selling them interprovincially across Canada.”

However, the RCMP reportedly walked back the insinuation of widespread ‘safe supply’ diversion throughout the country soon after media reported on the matter.

B.C.’s Addictions Minister, Mike Farnworth, told reporters that following a conversation with the RCMP’s commanding officer in the province, he learned the seizures did not contribute to widespread diversion.

Still, Smith suggests “we have to presume” there is a certain amount [coming into Alberta from B.C.].

“That is what we were told when OxyContin came onto the market, which led to the massive addiction crisis that we're still struggling with,” she said.

Since April 2016, drug overdoses have killed nearly 14,000 people in the province and over 40,000 people nationwide. Health Canada blamed fentanyl for the overwhelming majority (76%) of those deaths. 

“Given that teenagers, for example, are accessing fentanyl substitutes on the black market, what addictions advice would you give the B.C. government?” Rebel News asked Smith.

“Look, I recognize that BC has the right to develop their own policy,” she replied. “But we also have to make sure that the consequences aren't coming over our border.”

“That's why we have asked the federal government to put chemical tracers into the pharmaceutical drugs that they are using to supply on a prescription basis,” said Smith.

However, the federal government declined the advice in February on the grounds their proposal raises practical concerns.

The House of Commons last May 29 upheld the ‘safe supply’ policy by a 209 to 113 vote. Opposition leader Pierre Poilievre sponsored a counter motion to “redirect all funds from … hard drug programs to addiction treatment and recovery programs” that did not pass.

“We think [this] is an incorrect decision,” the premier countered.

“These drugs [fentanyl] are five times as powerful as heroin and making them available in a prescription format … and then showing up in younger people has us concerned,” she said.

“Five years ago, there were no underage kids dying of hydromorphone overdose. Now it's about one third of kids in British Columbia [who use] hydromorphone that overdose,” continued Smith.

Cooper earlier told The National Post it is “concerning to us” that young adults and teenagers are accessing fentanyl substitutes to get high.

“If these are getting into the hands of our youth or young adults who may think this is a safe way to get high, it is concerning to us,” she said.

Dozens of addiction experts earlier rendered the 'safe supply' program a failure, partly to hydromorphone not getting fentanyl users sufficiently high.

They note that hydromorphone's street price fell at least 70% in areas with 'safe supply' programs, resulting in users with lower opioid tolerances abusing the drug.

The Trudeau Liberals have committed more than $1 billion to address the overdose fatalities since 2017, according to a December 2023 update detailing federal actions. This included more than $359.2 million allocated in Budget 2023 over five years for the renewed Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy (CDSS).

“People have continued to engage in opioid use behaviour that increases risk of harm,” said the report Horizontal Evaluation Of The Canadian Drugs And Substances Strategy. “Minimal changes since 2017 to rates of high-risk substance use suggest further prevention efforts are required.”

We don't want that, clarified Smith. “We don't want anybody to think that there's any such thing as a ‘safe supply’ of opioids,” she added.

“In Alberta, we have made the provision of ‘safe supply’ illegal to prevent this very thing from happening,” said the premier in an earlier statement. “Unfortunately, that does not stop organized criminals from bringing it here illegally from other provinces.”

According to in-house Privy Council research, most Canadians oppose the ‘safe supply’ policy. “Participants were mostly negative,” said a 2023 report Continuous Qualitative Data Collection Of Canadians’ Views.

Asked about opioid addiction, British Columbians in federal focus groups called it a major worry. “All believed this to be a significant issue, and many were of the view that rising rates of addiction had contributed to increased crime in their communities,” said the report.

Remove Ads
Remove Ads

Never miss a story!

Get updates on our coverage of Alberta's Legislature straight to your inbox.

Sign Up

Don't Get Censored

Big Tech is censoring us. Sign up so we can always stay in touch.

Remove Ads