Director's Desk Update
The Opioid Crisis: The United States and Canada's Fentanyl Epidemic
This month, we are featuring the analysis prepared by our summer staff intern, Morgan Leung. -Laura
The United States and Canada are the first and second largest per capita consumers of opioids in the world respectively. Over the past few years, the availability of illicitly manufactured fentanyl (IMF) in Canada and the United States has jumped and, with as little as 2 mg of fentanyl representing a potentially fatal dose, the number of opioid-related deaths has correspondingly increased. Most illicit fentanyl in North America comes from China.
While low doses of fentanyl are prescribed by medical professionals to relieve pain, IMF is often laced with, or used to cut, other opioids such as heroin or cocaine which not only heightens an opioid’s potency but also the risk of a fatal overdose. The majority of drug consumers are not aware that their drug supply contains fentanyl. This is what makes the fentanyl epidemic particularly frightening and dangerous to habitual drug consumers.
Since 2016, there have been over 10,000 opioid-related deaths in Canada. British Columbia has experienced the highest number of fatal overdoses at a rate of 30.6 deaths per 100,000 population in 2018, more than double the national death rate. The fentanyl epidemic has claimed the lives of over 60,000 Americans since IMF first made its way into the United States in 2013. The U.S. national average is 21.7 deaths per 100,000 population, with Wisconsin and Ohio being hit the hardest by the epidemic at rates of 57.8 and 46.3 per 100,000 population respectively.
From a gendered perspective, the fentanyl epidemic disproportionately affects young men. The majority of victims are men between 25 and 39 years of age. Researchers have speculated that this imbalance is due to the fact that men are more likely to consume drugs alone, putting them at risk of not receiving critical help if they experience an overdose or other health complications.
Canada’s policy focus has been on the demand side of the issue and addressing the reasons why people consume opioids. Safe consumption sites (SCSs) have played an integral role in Canada’s response to the fentanyl epidemic. At an SCS, drug consumers can have their drugs checked for the presence of fentanyl, medical professionals are on standby to monitor drug consumers for overdoses and administer naloxone when needed. It is hoped that SCSs in tandem with addiction awareness campaigns will help to break the stigma surrounding addiction and drug consumption in Canada.
The United States has chosen to focus on the supply side of the issue, in part because methods to address the demand side have come across as sanctioning drug misuse. The U.S. government has some funding available for state-run addiction programs, but they have yet to decriminalize SCSs or implement safeguards to protect bystanders. Bystanders, who are sometimes drug consumers, may be afraid to call 911 because they could be charged with drug-related crimes themselves. Actions to protect bystanders have primarily taken place at the state-level with more than 30 states implementing Good Samaritan Laws. Several cities such as Seattle, Denver, New York City, and most recently, Philadelphia have petitioned to open SCSs, but they have faced considerable backlash from the federal government.
Even before IMF came into prominence, opioid misuse and related deaths had been steadily on the rise in both Canada and the United States as a result of doctors increasingly prescribing opioids to treat acute pain disorders. To counteract these trends effectively, both countries need to work to address the demand side aspects of the crisis, rather than wait for other countries to curb the supply.
Woodrow Wilson Awards: Toronto, October 3, 2019
|To celebrate the best of the Canada-U.S. relationship, Canada Institute is delighted to host an awards dinner in honour of the Honourable John Manley and the Honorable Tom Ridge on Thursday, October 3 in Toronto.|
Sponsorship commitments continue to be strong! We have achieved more than 60 percent of our fundraising goal. Thanks to CIBC, Power Corporation of Canada, CAE Inc., Aecon, Andrew Peller Limited, Agrium Inc.,Bennett Jones, BMO Financial Group, Bombardier, Bell Canada,Business Council of Canada, Brookfield Partners Foundation, Clearwater, Enbridge/Union Gas, Fasken, Harvard Developments,Husky Group of Companies, Manulife, Maple Leaf Foods Inc.,McCarthy Tétrault, Saputo, Scotiabank, Thomson-Reuters, and Vancouver Airport Authority.
For registration, sponsorship and event information, please visitwww.CanadaInstituteAwards.com
|Make sure to subscribe to our mailing list to receive event information, publications, and newsletters in your inbox! To receive the Canada Institute's information on upcoming events, latest publications, and the monthly newsletter.|
Global Fellows Appointments
|We are excited to welcome to Dr. Laurie Trautman and Dr. Roy Norton to the Canada Institute! We look forward to their collaboration on border and trade issues as well as diplomacy and global governance. |
|Dr. Laurie Trautman,|
Director, Border Policy Research Institute, Western Washington University
|Dr. Roy Norton,|
Diplomat-in-Residence, Balsillie School of International Affairs
- Director Laura Dawson went on CBC’s Power and Politics to discuss the complex Canada-United States-China relationship. In the interview, she argues that “like-minded trading countries – Canada, the US, the European Union, etc.” need to have one “broad-based consensus” and present one, unified front.
- Following Ambassador MacNaughton’s announcement that he would be leaving his post at the end of August, Director Laura Dawson reflected on his integral role in Washington, DC in an interview with CBC’s Power and Politics. She likened him to the “quarterback” for Team Canada because he “led Canada through extremely challenging times here in Washington”. She also mentioned her confidence in interim Ambassador Kirsten Hillman and the status of the USMCA.
- Director Laura Dawson went on Global News following an announcement that a series of hand-written notes were exchanged between Prime Minister Trudeau and President Trump in 2017. Dawson says it is not uncommon for world leaders to write handwritten notes or to go off script, and that Trudeau responded in the right way.
- Global Fellow Eric Miller appeared on Global News’ Danielle Smith Show to discuss rising tensions between Hong Kong protesters and Hong Kong police forces. He reflects on relations between Hong Kong and China, as well as what the future might hold for Canadian expats and foreign owned businesses.
- Several First Nations Chiefs argue that it is possible to work with the oil and gas industry to ensure environmental and economic prosperity in a new Op-Ed. While not easy, they argue that Enbridge addressed their concerns and observed their traditions and customs to ensure a “respectful” dialogue. In the end, they were recognized as key stakeholders, the project offered more than 1,000 jobs to Indigenous people, and First Nation citizen-owned businesses saw an increase in revenue. The hope is that First Nations communities in the United States will be able to have the same positive experience with the company.
For more information on how dialogue can improve between Indigenous communities and oil and gas companies, watch a recap of our 2018 event on Indigenous Involvement in North Americas Energy Future:https://buff.ly/2NthKEg
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