Opioid Crisis in Canada: Athabasca Tribal Council Declares Regional State of Emergency

Athabasca Tribal Council declares regional state of emergency due to mental health and addictions crisis in Canada's opioid epidemic. Opioid-related deaths tripled in Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo region. Calls for immediate intervention, resources, and a national response. #OpioidCrisisCanada

Opioid Crisis in Canada: Athabasca Tribal Council Declares Regional State of Emergency due to Mental Health and Addictions Crisis

Canada’s opioid crisis presents a clear and present challenge that impacts communities across the nation. Recently, the Athabasca Tribal Council (ATC) in Alberta declared a regional state of emergency due to the interconnected issues of mental health and addiction amongst council communities.

The Intensity of the Crisis

According to CTV News, the opioid-related overdose deaths have tripled, and attempts to commit suicides skyrocketed in the Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo region. Such an alarming increase paints a worrying picture of opioid misuse and its damaging effects on society.

The Impact on the Nations

The opioid crisis has imposed severe impacts on the First Nations communities, leading to increased crime rates, homelessness, and escalating societal disorder. The alarming increase in these incidents reflects the pervasive and devastating effects of the opioid crisis on these vulnerable communities.

Addressing the Crisis

The ATC has responded to the crisis by calling for immediate intervention and support from the provincial and federal government. The ATC Chief Allan Adams realizes the importance of a ‘wraparound’ approach in the battle against the opioid crisis, highlighting the need for a comprehensive strategy that involves medical care, addiction support, economic opportunity, and housing.

Adams has tabled a demand for an Opioid Action Plan that encompasses awareness programs, proper training for healthcare professionals, support for the introduction of anti-overdose medication Naloxone, and the need for a rehabilitation centre in the region. This call for action directly addresses the overwhelming need for a structured and holistic method to combat the opioid epidemic.

Calls for a national response

Simultaneously, the ATC has raised the need for a national response. The ATC’s call to the Canadian government is to declare the opioid crisis a national public health emergency, thereby unlocking additional resources for those regions most severely affected.

This aligns with the ongoing opioid class-action suit, where several First Nations are part of more than 100 plaintiffs seeking compensation from pharmaceutical companies for their role in this escalating crisis.

Key Points Covered:

  • The ATC declared a state of emergency due to the rising opioid crisis, indicating a significant societal issue that demands immediate attention.
  • In the Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo region, opioid-related deaths have tripled, and suicide attempts have significantly increased.
  • ATC calls for an Opioid Action Plan, which includes awareness programs, proper training and resources for healthcare professionals, support for naloxone distribution, and a rehabilitation center in the region.
  • The council seeks support from both federal and provincial levels and highlights the need for a national response to the opioid crisis.
  • First Nations are participating in a class-action lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies for their alleged role in igniting and fostering the opioid crisis.


The escalating opioid crisis in Canada requires an urgent and comprehensive response. The situation in the Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo region, as declared by the Athabasca Tribal Council, signifies how dire circumstances have become. As community leaders, it is crucial to support immediate interventions, improved public health approaches, and stronger regulations on opioid prescriptions.

This opioid crisis serves as a reminder of the magnitude of the challenge and the need for a robust, multi-sector approach that directly addresses the underlying causes. It also underscores the urgency for governments at all levels to step up and provide the necessary resources, support, and strategic responses needed to combat this widespread and destructive crisis effectively.


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