Province promises US $ 2.2 million for Tribe's blood typing opiate facility


A pharmacist prepares a Suboxone prescription at the pharmacy in Standoff.

Gavin Young / Postmedia

Authorities at the Blood Tribe reserve in southern Alberta have sought help from the provincial government, which faces an unprecedented crisis of opiates – and now that request has been answered.

The province announced Thursday that the tribe will receive $ 2.2 million over two years for a program that will help overcome recovering patients.

Under the program, Blood Tribe paramedics will have the option of transporting overdose patients directly to a treatment facility where they can recover and receive resources and programs to help them clean.

Kevin Cowan, chief executive of Blood Tribe's health department, said the ad left him "speechless" and believes the program will have a significant positive impact on the community.

"It will make a big difference for us here – having these paramedics working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, providing a service to people who just were not getting this service," he said.

The tribe has been facing a crisis like carfentanil – a synthetic opioid 100 times stronger than fentanyl – flooded the reserve.

Cowan told the Postmedia in November how reserve EMS employees often use naloxone kits to reverse the effects of an overdose before taking patients to the hospital, just so they are "released quickly" before repeating "the same pattern and overdose again. "

"Bringing them to the hospital is not working for us, for the community," he said.

Patients will then have the ability to use the Kanai Transition Society to support their recovery and transition to society.

A resident of the Blood Reserve walks along a road near a Standoff on September 12, 2017.

David Rossiter /


"We believe this is the first time in Canada that this has been done. We'll have our EMS team … a program 24 hours a day, seven days a week, "Cowan said.

"They will be here to accept the calls. (Patients) will be kept for 10 to 14 days; our doctors will administer an opioid substitute like Suboxone and will work with our addictions and mental health team.

"I hope we can move them to a transitional society."

Between October and November, there were 94 overdoses in the reserve, of which 57 occurred last month, and Cowan said there were six other overdoses in the reserve in December.

Carfentanil is so potent that a Blood Tribe paramedic service found an overdose of four patients after having divided only one pill.

Alberta Health Minister Sarah Hoffman said the government is proud to give this funding to the program.


"Blood Tribe has developed a community-based solution to help relieve the current overdose crisis," she said.

"We will continue to work with the Blood Tribe to ensure they have the support they need to provide treatment and care for people affected by substance use."

The government has helped fight the opiate crisis, said Roy Fox, head of the Blood Tribe.

"Premier Notley, Minister Hoffman and the Alberta Cabinet have been sincerely grateful and helpful in fighting the opiate crisis that has plagued our people in recent years," he said.

"We thank them for their continued involvement and the provision of additional resources to the medical treatment center that our council, department, and health council initiated. Many other departments, tribal members and others have worked collaboratively to end this drug problem, and we appreciate their courage and commitment. "

The province has also announced funding for a permanent housing complex in Lethbridge on Friday, west of the reserve.

The $ 11 million project will provide accommodation for 42 people, with the government investing an additional $ 1.6 million to create up to 30 new damage reduction spaces in the city "to make people sober," the province said in a statement. .

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